Dr. Elizabeth R. Gavin, Ph.D.,
DamonB. Pfeiffer Professor of MolecularBiology
Associated Faculty of the Princeton Neuroscience Institute
Topic: Looking to the future: assembly and regulation of germline RNA granules
Abstract: Germ granules are phase-transitioned condensates characteristic of germ cells throughout the animal kingdom. These granules contain proteins and RNAs required for germ cell development and function. Using the fruit fly Drosophila as a model, we have shown that germ granules concentrate mRNAs from many different genes and deliver them to the germ cell progenitors. Within germ granules, different mRNAs are organized as spatially distinct clusters, called homotypic clusters, containing multiple copies of a particular mRNA. I will discuss our studies of the germ granule assembly process and its significance for germ cell development. How mRNAs self-recognize to form homotypic clusters or sort out from each other within granule remains a puzzle that we hope to solve. Before the germ cell progenitors form, germ granules protect RNAs and control their translation. After germ cells form, germ granule properties change and protection for some RNAs is lost. I will describe ongoing efforts to understand germ granule regulatory functions.