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Our laboratory studies the process of pattern formation during animal development. Recent work has focused on the Hedgehog (Hh) signal transduction pathway and its role in the patterning of Drosophila segments and appendages. The Hh pathway has been conserved throughout the animal kingdom and is also required for the development of vertebrate appendages, floorplate and many other structures. In flies the primary target of Hh signaling is the transcription factor Cubitus interruptus (Ci).

Hh Signaling

In response to Hh signaling, cleavage of the Ci protein is blocked and Ci activates the expression of Hh target genes. We would like to understand in detail the regulation of Ci activity by signal transduction and the mechanism by which Ci acts with other factors to activate target genes. We have three major projects. The first uses a combination of genetic and structure-function studies to examine activities of various Ci protein domains. In the second, we are using genetic and molecular approaches to indentify new components of the Hh signal transduction pathway, and in the third, molecular and biochemical experiments are being used to study the regulation of enhancers by Ci. Through this work, we hope to understand how cells integrate different signaling systems and have their fates specified.