Research objectives and content
Programmed Cell Death (PCD) is crucial to animal development and tissue homeostasis. Several diseases involve dysregulation of PCD. Genes controlling PCD in vertebrates, nematodes and Drosophila have been isolated. The slime mould Dictyostelium represents the earliest known occurrence in eukaryotic evolution of PCD in multicellular development. Cells secrete DIF that contributes to induce part of the population to differentiate into dead stalk cells, supporting viablc spores. Certain PCD phenomena of stalk cell formation are similar to those in higher eukaryotes. This project will i.use genetic tractability of Dictyostelium to identify genes encoding molecules required for Dictyostelium PCD, ii. establish the precise function of these genes, and iii. investigate whether homologs of these genes have similar functions in higher eukaryotes. Training content (objective, benefit and expected impact) I will learn to apply, together with usual molecular biology techniques, a variety of up-to-date techniques such as tagged mutagenesis, confocal scanning laser microscopy, cell fractionation and enzyme assays, to identify and characterize genes and their cognate proteins involved in signal transduction and execution of PCD. The training allows me to pursue a career in fundamental or applied research, for example in the fields of developmental biology, cancer or AIDS.
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