The goal of this grant is to study how microtubules, actin filaments, and motor proteins generate polarity in Drosophila oocytes. Oocyte polarity is critical for early embryonic development, and polarity determinants are conserved between Drosophila and humans, allowing us to study polarity determination using a genetic system amenable to high-resolution imaging. We will use live imaging to study molecular mechanisms of transport and posterior oocyte anchoring of an evolutionary conserved polarity determinant Staufen. We will test a hypothesis that Staufen is transported in the nurse cells of Drosophila ovaries and between individual cells through the ring canals in the form attached to microtubules, and that these microtubules are moved in the cytoplasm and through the ring canals by molecular motors. We will identify these motors and find the proteins that attach Staufen to microtubules. Our lab has discovered that conventional kinesin has a new and conserved function of sliding microtubules against each other and generated new genetic tools that allow us to microtubule-sliding and cargo-transporting functions of kinesin. Using these tools, we will determine the role of microtubule-microtubule sliding in kinesin localization. We will explore the role of the cortical network of actin filaments in the localization of Staufen and will test the hypothesis that competition between cortical anchoring to actin and transport by or along microtubules defines the final asymmetrical distribution of Staufen. We will identify proteins that link Staufen with the posterior cortex in the oocyte. This work will advance our knowledge of fundamental transport processes that define cell polarity, and early embryonic development.

Public Health Relevance

Generation of the oocyte polarity is of utmost importance for development of a human body and is generated by directed delivery and anchoring in the oocyte of specific proteins and RNA. Both delivery and anchoring of molarity determinant are performed by motor proteins moving on microtubules and actin cytoskeleton. These components are potential targets for new drugs that could potentially be used to treat developmental and neurodegenerative diseases.

National Institute of Health (NIH)
National Institute of General Medical Sciences (NIGMS)
Research Project (R01)
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Nuclear and Cytoplasmic Structure/Function and Dynamics Study Section (NCSD)
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Gindhart, Joseph G
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Northwestern University at Chicago
Anatomy/Cell Biology
Schools of Medicine
United States
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Oelz, Dietmar B; Del Castillo, Urko; Gelfand, Vladimir I et al. (2018) Microtubule Dynamics, Kinesin-1 Sliding, and Dynein Action Drive Growth of Cell Processes. Biophys J 115:1614-1624
Lu, Wen; Lakonishok, Margot; Serpinskaya, Anna S et al. (2018) Ooplasmic flow cooperates with transport and anchorage in Drosophila oocyte posterior determination. J Cell Biol 217:3497-3511