Dr. Laura G. Vallier
Associate Professor
Department of Biology
218 Gittleson Hall
114 Hofstra University
Hempstead, NY 11549

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Vallier Lab at Hofstra

gonadal sheath tagged with lim-7::GFP

The Vallier lab research uses the genetics of the model organism, Caenorhabditis elegans, to analyze processes of early development. Currently, we are focused on two projects. The first is the development of the gonadal sheath, a tissue comprising five pairs of cells surrounding the proximal half of each gonadal arm, which is required for gametogenesis, spermatogenesis, meiotic progression and ovulation. Specifically, we want to identify and characterize the genes required to specify the cell fate of the gonadal sheath cells using double-stranded RNA interference (RNAi). Understanding the common underlying principles of the determinants of tissue identity can lead to the better understanding of what goes wrong when these processes are improperly executed, for example, during the dedifferentiation of cancer cells in malignant tumors. In addition, these studies have the potential of better understanding the regulation of the production of oocytes (ova) and sperm, during gametogenesis. The second interest in the lab is the regulation of LIM-7, a LIM homeodomain transcription factor that is found in the gonadal sheath, among other places. An in-frame deletion that removes most of the two LIM domains results in lethality at an early larval stage. Jane Hubbard's lab at NYU identified and characterized an enhancer in intron 1 that is necessary and sufficient for expression of GFP in the gonadal sheath. Currently we are attempting to determine what binds to that enhancer to effect the expression.