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Establishing the C. elegans Uterine Seam Cell (utse) as a Novel Model for Studying Cell Behavior


Ghosh, Srimoyee (2015) Establishing the C. elegans Uterine Seam Cell (utse) as a Novel Model for Studying Cell Behavior. Dissertation (Ph.D.), California Institute of Technology. doi:10.7907/Z92F7KCX.


The molecular inputs necessary for cell behavior are vital to our understanding of development and disease. Proper cell behavior is necessary for processes ranging from creating one’s face (neural crest migration) to spreading cancer from one tissue to another (invasive metastatic cancers). Identifying the genes and tissues involved in cell behavior not only increases our understanding of biology but also has the potential to create targeted therapies in diseases hallmarked by aberrant cell behavior.

A well-characterized model system is key to determining the molecular and spatial inputs necessary for cell behavior. In this work I present the C. elegans uterine seam cell (utse) as an ideal model for studying cell outgrowth and shape change. The utse is an H-shaped cell within the hermaphrodite uterus that functions in attaching the uterus to the body wall. Over L4 larval stage, the utse grows bidirectionally along the anterior-posterior axis, changing from an ellipsoidal shape to an elongated H-shape. Spatially, the utse requires the presence of the uterine toroid cells, sex muscles, and the anchor cell nucleus in order to properly grow outward. Several gene families are involved in utse development, including Trio, Nav, Rab GTPases, Arp2/3, as well as 54 other genes found from a candidate RNAi screen. The utse can be used as a model system for studying metastatic cancer. Meprin proteases are involved in promoting invasiveness of metastatic cancers and the meprin-likw genes nas-21, nas-22, and toh-1 act similarly within the utse. Studying nas-21 activity has also led to the discovery of novel upstream inhibitors and activators as well as targets of nas-21, some of which have been characterized to affect meprin activity. This illustrates that the utse can be used as an in vivo model for learning more about meprins, as well as various other proteins involved in metastasis.

Item Type:Thesis (Dissertation (Ph.D.))
Subject Keywords:C. elegans, Cell Shape Change, utse, Rab, Trio, Nav, astacin, meprin
Degree Grantor:California Institute of Technology
Division:Biology and Biological Engineering
Major Option:Biology
Thesis Availability:Public (worldwide access)
Research Advisor(s):
  • Sternberg, Paul W.
Thesis Committee:
  • Bronner, Marianne E. (chair)
  • Chan, David C.
  • Hay, Bruce A.
  • Sternberg, Paul W.
Defense Date:5 May 2015
Non-Caltech Author Email:sghosh87 (AT)
Record Number:CaltechTHESIS:05202015-102200658
Persistent URL:
Ghosh, Srimoyee0000-0002-7820-6741
Default Usage Policy:No commercial reproduction, distribution, display or performance rights in this work are provided.
ID Code:8870
Deposited By: Srimoyee Ghosh
Deposited On:29 May 2015 21:55
Last Modified:06 Nov 2019 17:43

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