Morphogenesis and pattern formation are vital processes in any organism, whether unicellular or multicellular. But in contrast to the developmental biology of plants and animals, the principles of morphogenesis and pattern formation in single cells remain largely unknown. Although all cells develop patterns, the giant ciliate Stentor coeruleus provides unique features of large size, highly reproducible patterns and cellular landmarks, and a remarkable ability to heal wounds that allows microsurgical approaches of a type normally seen in embryology. Stentor was a popular model organism for exploring the mechanism of cellular morphogenesis and regeneration but was never developed as a molecular model system. We have now sequenced the Stentor genome and developed a method for testing gene function by RNAi. We propose to use these genomic tools to test a set of hypothesis about how the cell cortex and nuclear work together to direct pattern formation during cell development and allow regeneration of cellular structures following surgical removal. We expect our studies to open a new window onto the mechanisms by which cells form patterns and develop complex structures, which is a universal problem throughout all of biology.

Public Health Relevance

We often think of cells are being small simple structures, but actually many cells in the body have highly complex shapes, the origins of which we do not understand. The giant single-celled organism Stentor provides a unique opportunity to study the mechanisms of how cells build complex shapes, and also how cells regenerate their structures after damage.

Agency
National Institute of Health (NIH)
Institute
National Institute of General Medical Sciences (NIGMS)
Type
Research Project (R01)
Project #
1R01GM113602-01
Application #
8838953
Study Section
Special Emphasis Panel (ZRG1-CB-P (02))
Program Officer
Haynes, Susan R
Project Start
2015-02-01
Project End
2019-01-31
Budget Start
2015-02-01
Budget End
2016-01-31
Support Year
1
Fiscal Year
2015
Total Cost
$379,654
Indirect Cost
$139,809
Name
University of California San Francisco
Department
Biochemistry
Type
Schools of Medicine
DUNS #
094878337
City
San Francisco
State
CA
Country
United States
Zip Code
94143
Tang, Sindy K Y; Marshall, Wallace F (2017) Self-repairing cells: How single cells heal membrane ruptures and restore lost structures. Science 356:1022-1025
Slabodnick, Mark M; Ruby, J Graham; Reiff, Sarah B et al. (2017) The Macronuclear Genome of Stentor coeruleus Reveals Tiny Introns in a Giant Cell. Curr Biol 27:569-575
Blauch, Lucas R; Gai, Ya; Khor, Jian Wei et al. (2017) Microfluidic guillotine for single-cell wound repair studies. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A 114:7283-7288
Slabodnick, Mark M; Marshall, Wallace F (2014) Stentor coeruleus. Curr Biol 24:R783-4