The nematode, Caenorhabditis elegans, has been identified as a "high connectivity" animal for cellular development. This very small, simple animal has been widely adopted for experimental study due to its excellent genetics and accessible cell biology. The complete genome of the worm has been published, and most of the adult anatomy has been reconstructed from electron micrographs of serial thin sections. However, EM techniques are not widely utilized by the C. elegans community, and most previous EM data are not easily accessed. The Center for C. elegans Anatomy concentrates on 1) publishing detailed information regarding the anatomy of the nematode in the form of annotated TEM and light micrographs, available on our two websites WormAtlas (text-based) and Wormlmage (image database), and by ftp, on hard drives, and in book form as the C. elegans Atlas. The Center is 2) providing practical training in modern EM methods for students and postdoc's and 3) testing new EM methods for C. elegans. We also conduct new EM surveys of the wild type anatomy at key developmental stages to supplement the Adas, and to fill gaps in our general knowledge. This R24 application was first funded and the Center opened in Feb. 1998;we request years of funding to continue building our capabilities to serve the scientific community.
Many disease-related gene sequences are known in the C. elegans genome;the TEM pathology of genetic mutations in nematode is often helpful in discovering the function of equivalent gene products in man. Studies in this laboratory have uncovered basic mechanisms related to development of the brain, and explored genes involved in several forms of cell death, including apoptosis, necrosis and autophagy.
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