Washington University Graduate Programs - DBBS Department of Genetics
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Dutcher Lab Research

The Dutcher Lab studies the assembly and function of basal bodies/centrioles and cilia using genetics, biochemistry, microscopy, and computational biology. Motile cilia play roles in moving cells and fluids. Sensory cilia play essential roles in monitoring the environment.  Chlamydmonas uses its flagella (or cilia) in both ways. To build cilia, one needs to have functional basal bodies. 

Centrioles are highly ordered structures composed of nine sets of triplet microtubules arranged in a turbine pattern. They possess various structural elaborations and are composed of over 150 polypeptides. Centrioles are found in the microtubule organizing center of most eukaryotic cells. They are required for the recruitment of the pericentriolar material to assemble a centrosome and are required for faithful completion of cytokinesis. Eukaryotic basal bodies are structurally similar to centrioles and interconvert in the cell cycle; they serve as templates for the assembly of cilia and flagella and as docking sites for molecular motors.

The unicellular green alga Chlamydomonas reinhardtii provides an ideal system to address centriole assembly and function genetically, microscopically, and biochemically. During interphase, basal bodies are found at the anterior end of the cell at the proximal ends of the two flagella. During mitosis, the flagella are resorbed and the basal bodies are located near the poles of the mitotic spindle. Several mutations profoundly alter the assembly and function of basal bodies. A mutation in the UNI3 gene, which encodes delta-tubulin, results in the assembly of basal bodies that have doublet rather than triplet microtubules. These mutant cells have a defect in placement of the cleavage furrow.  Mutations in the BLD2 gene also result in the assembly of abnormal basal bodies in Chlamydomonas and the locus encodes epsilon-tubulin is the product of the BLD2 locus. Thus, two members of the tubulin superfamily are needed for basal body function.

Projects

RED: current members of the lab or collaborators 

Studying basal body assembly

  • JESSICA ESPARZA (FORMER GRADUATE STUDENT)
  • LINYA LI  (FORMER TECH)
  • ALISON ALBEE (POSTDOCTORAL FELLOW)
  • EILEEN O’TOOLE (UNIVERSITY OF COLORADO)

Computational genomics to find ciliary protein

  • JIN BILLY LI  (FORMER GRADUATE STUDENT)
  • ALAN KWAN (GRADUATE STUDENT)

Studying the assembly of cilia and sensory function

  • CARLO IOMINI (FORMER POSTDOCTORAL FELLOW)
  • MICHELLE MILLER (FORMER UNDERGRADUATE STUDENT)

Studying the role of basal bodies in mitotic spindle function

  • HUAWEN LIN (POSTDOCTORAL FELLOW)

Studying dynein mutants in Chlamydomonas

  • TOM FERKOL, DEPARTMENT OF PEDIATRICS
  • AMBER WATTERS (MEDICAL STUDENT)
  • BRIAN LEWIS
  • PHIL BAYLEY, DEPARTMENT OF MECHANCIAL ENGINEERING
  • WIN SALE AND CANDICE ELAM, EMORY UNIVERSITY
  • KERRY YORK (UNDERGRADUATE)
  • DAVID BARRY (UNDERGRADUATE)
  • PHILLIP KEMP (UNDERGRADUATE)
   
 

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This page last updated: 9/18/09 • © 2009 Washington University, All Rights Reserved