Department of Biology
Massachusetts Institute of Technology
Howard Hughes Medical Institute
McGovern Institute for Brain Research

Research: Morphogenesis

The development of all animals is characterized by striking changes in morphology. One important morphogenetic process involves the invagination of epithelial sheets. To analyze the molecular genetic basis of epithelial invagination, we are isolating and characterizing C. elegans mutants defective in the invagination of the epithelium that forms the vulva. To date, our mutants have defined eight genes, all of which also function in embryogenesis. We have characterized all eight genes molecularly and found that they encode components of a glycosylation pathway responsible for the biosynthesis of a glycosaminoglycan (GAG). These observations reveal that epithelial invagination and embryogenesis involve GAGs and provide a system for the genetic analysis of a glycosylation pathway involved in animal development. The human homolog of one of these eight genes, sqv-3, has been implicated in Ehlers-Danlos syndrome, a human connective tissue and aging disorder.

Nomarski photoicrographs showing a comparison between a fourth larval stage (A) wild type animal and a (B) sqv-4 mutant, which is defective in the morphogenesis of the vulval opening.

Publications: Morphogenesis

Abstracts: Morphogenesis

The Horvitz Lab