We are composed of tissues and organs of distinct shapes, but how are these shapes formed? To answer this question, biologists turn to the embryos and developing tissues of model organisms to study the mechanisms that build tissues with distinctive shapes and patterns. These mechanisms include changes in the cytoskeleton and cell adhesion, changes in cell shape, changes in the forces within a cell and across a tissue, and signals that determine whether cells live or die. It turns out that most of the processes required to correctly shape embryos and tissues have also been found to function incorrectly in a variety of human diseases!
This is a part-seminar, part-laboratory course that examines tissue and pattern generation in Drosophila (the fruit fly), an accessible model organism that has been extensively used to study the conserved processes and proteins that shape tissues. First, we will examine how the Drosophila embryo is shaped and patterned. Second, we examine how the Drosophila eye is assembled and patterned. Students will set up Drosophila crosses, use popular techniques to manipulate protein expression, and dissect and image fly tissues.