Dr Helen White-Cooper
Telephone:+44(0)29 208 75492
Location:Cardiff School of Biosciences, The Sir Martin Evans Building, Museum Avenue, Cardiff, CF10 3AX
Developmental Genetics - Regulation of Gene Expression in Drosophila Spermatogenesis
Cell differentiation is driven by co-ordinated changes in the gene expression profile of the cell: some genes are switched on, others are switched off. The mature sperm is a highly specialised cell (nearly 2mm long), whose formation from a simple primary spermatocyte involves meiosis to form round spermatids, followed by complex changes in cell architecture to form the final elongated motile sperm. During spermatogenesis there is a dramatic switch in the gene expression profile of male germ-line cells: as they enter the primary spermatocyte stage they activate transcription of a large set of genes required for sperm production. We have identified a set of proteins, encoded by the meiotic arrest genes, that work together to activate this transcriptional programme, and are investigating the composition, activity and evolution of this complex. We recently discovered that another small set of genes is transcribed after meiosis, and that these late transcribed mRNAs localise to a discrete region of the cell. We are studying their transcriptional control, and the mRNA localisation mechanism. Continued production of sperm is maintained via a stem cell system, and we are characterising a transcription factor required for stem cell maintenance.