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Publications of the Week

Gene Regulatory Networks for the Haploid-To-Diploid Transition of Chlamydomonas Reinhardtii

By July 31, 2017August 1st, 2017No Comments

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 This week we profile a recent publication in Plant Physiology from the laboratory of Dr. Jae-Hyeok Lee (right)
at the University of British Columbia.

Can you provide a brief overview of your lab’s current research focus?

Sexual reproduction is a defining feature of eukaryotic organisms, as the prime context for genetics and development manifests in eukaryotes. Our laboratory studies a green alga, Chlamydomonas reinhardtii, as a genetic model for unicellular photosynthetic eukaryotes. We investigate the molecular mechanisms of its sexual reproduction using molecular genetics and genomics approaches in three areas: 1) the induction by nitrogen starvation, 2) the regulation by the heterodimeric homeobox transcription factors, GSM1/GSP1, and 3) the execution of zygote differentiation involving the assembly of a new cell wall and the reconstitution of combined genetic materials from two sexual gametes.

More information on our lab’s research can be found on our website.

What is the significance of the findings in this publication?

In brief, this publication describes the detailed gene-level execution of zygote development in the first two hours after the fusion of two sexual gametes via RNA-seq transcriptome analysis. Two major conclusions are: 1) the majority of differentially regulated genes during zygote development is under the control of the GSM1/GSP1 heterodimeric homeobox transcription factors; and 2) the transition from gamete to zygote is executed by transcriptional activation of zygote-specific genes and post-transcriptional inhibition of vegetative/gamete-specific transcripts. This publication illustrates a simple and elegant mechanism of a unicellular organism for irreversible cellular differentiation, that would have likely been elaborated during the evolution of complex multicellularity in plants and animals.

What are the next steps for this research?

This publication not only provides critical insights about regulatory mechanisms, but also generates genetic resources that enable us to investigate individual processes during zygote differentiation. Thesis projects in the lab are currently focused on testing the involvement of histone-modifications/siRNAs on zygote differentiation programs and investigating which of the ER-Golgi secretory pathways are involved in zygotic wall assembly.

This research was funded by:

We are grateful for on-going support from the NSERC discovery program and CFI. This work is also supported by our grant from KCRC, Korea Carbon Capture & Sequestration R&D Center for mitigating future climate changes.

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