Recent and future projects

Besides these well-advanced projects above there are a number of exciting recently initiated projects:

  1. We started a collaboration with Steve Small (NYU/Biology) to measure the structure-function relationship of one particular enhancer (small piece if DNA that regulates a gene). How is the actual string of code (nucleotides) affecting the final output (mRNA transcripts)? We are genetically engineering enhancer variants that we express in both embryonic cell lines and in living embryos and we are measuring their transcriptional activity by using our single molecule mRNA counting technology.
  2. We are in the process of generating flies that simultaneously express up to three fast-folding/fast-maturing fluorophores attached to different members of the patterning network, and we are building custom microscopes for live imaging that can cope a) with spectral unmixing for multi-color measurements, b) with the fast evolving expression level dynamics, and c) with resolving the full three-dimensional structure of an entire embryo.
  3. In an effort to link our expression level measurements back to evolutionary constraints, we are exploring three interconnected paths: 1) What are the variations of expression levels in natural wild type Drosophila populations from different parts of the world? 2) What are the expression level variations in isogenic fly populations, and how do these variations respond to environmental fluctuations? 3) We are generating tools to quantify phenotypes in the adult organism, such as left-right symmetry of fly wings, to ask how this symmetry is affected if we perturb embryonic expression levels or environmental conditions such as temperature or food supply, and whether perturbances in the embryo and in the adult are correlated.


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