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Investigating the Role of Pezo-1 in the Germline of Caenorhabditis elegans.

Graduate Student Seminar Series | Ishani Sharma | September 20, 2023

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Mechanical regulation of cellular processes by mechanosensitive ion channels has been well studied in a myriad of systems. However, much of their downstream mechanisms and their contributions in vivo remain elusive. Caenorhabditis elegans is a simple and attractive model to study mechanotransduction in vivo mostly due to their simple tissue systems that encounter mechanical stimulation throughout their lifespan. One such tissue system is the reproductive system of the hermaphrodites in this organism.

Pezo-1, the ortholog of the mammalian Piezo mechanosensitive ion channels in C. elegans, is expressed extensively throughout the gonad. A recent study has shown that Pezo-1, expressed in the somatic cells, is necessary for proper ovulation and fertilization in the worm. However, the role of Pezo-1 in the germline cells of the gonad, including the stem cells and the oocytes, has not been not elaborately investigated.

In this study, the role of Pezo-1 in the maintenance of the germline stem/progenitor cells is explored. Furthermore, the role of Pezo-1 in the oocyte development of C. elegans was investigated, with a special focus on the cytoplasmic aggregation of the protein. I believe this study will facilitate a better understanding of the mechanical regulation of basic cellular processes in stem cells as well as more differentiated cells like oocytes, giving us an insight into such mechanisms in more complex systems in higher organisms. 

About the Speaker:

Ishani is currently pursuing her Ph.D. working with Dr. Anup Padmanabhan in the Department of Biology at Ashoka University. Her research interest lies in the mechanical regulation of various cellular processes, with a primary focus on the Piezo family of mechanosensitive ion channels and their mechanism of action in the C. elegans reproductive system. She had completed her Masters in Molecular Biology and Biotechnology from Tezpur University, Assam, and worked as a JRF at IIT Guwahati, before joining the Ph.D. program. 

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