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Molecular dissection of airway maturation in Drosophila
Prof Christos Samakovlis
Developmental Biology (Wenner-Gren Institute)
Swedish Research Council - Vetenskapsrådet (VR)
Oxygen is vital for aerobic respiration and many animals evolved elaborate organs for its efficient transport and delivery to all cells in the body. Like our lungs and blood vessels, the tracheal airways deliver oxygen to all tissues of Drosophila and provide an excellent model system for the molecular dissection of respiratory organ development. Our live imaging and genetic analysis has revealed the precise activation of apical secretion, endocytosis and gas filling pulses that turn nascent embryonic tubes into functional airways. This project aims to uncover the molecular control of airway maturation. We are employing live imaging, molecular biology and a genome-wide transgenic RNAi screen towards three aims: 1) Characterize the mechanisms of epithelial junction assembly 2) Elucidate the entire program of airway maturation 3) Define and initiate the molecular characterization of phylogenetically conserved regulators of secretion, endocytosis and airway gas filling. The unique superiority of the whole-genome, tissue-specific RNAi approach is that it targets all annotated genes and addresses genome function in the living animal. In the long term the results may provide a molecular insight into the causes of fatal conditions like respiratory distress syndromes and common lung edemas caused by injury and infections.
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