Dr. Veit Riechmann
Regulation of cytoskeletal dynamics in the Drosophila egg chamber
We aim to understand how the cytoskeleton mediates development. In particular, we are examining how the actomyosin cytoskeleton coordinates epithelial morphogenesis. In addition, we analyse the polarisation of the oocyte cytoskeleton and its role in axis determination.
We use Drosophila oogenesis as a model to investigate cytoskeletal dynamics. Oogenesis proceeds in small units called egg chambers. These simple organs consist of two tissues: an inner germline cyst of 1 oocyte and 15 nurse cells, and an outer epithelial layer (Fig. 1).
Two cell types are excellent models to study the cytoskeleton. First, the oocyte with its highly polarised microtubule cytoskeleton, along which the determinants of the embryonic axes are transported. Second, the outer epithelial cells, which provide an outstanding model to study epithelial polarisation.
The understanding of the mechanisms regulating the cytoskeleton is relevant for several medical problems. For example, loss of cytoskeletal polarity is a hallmark of most tumour cells. Further, the investigation of cytoskeletal organisation during morphogenesis will greatly advance our understanding of abnormal cell behaviour in a variety of human diseases. Oogenesis provides a simple model to study the basic principles controlling cytoskeletal polarisation and morphogenesis.