Barbara T. Wakimoto
University of Washington
1985 Searle Scholar
Chromosome Organization and Gene Expression
Broad range interests in Dr. Wakimoto's laboratory center around chromosome organization and its relationship to gene expression and chromosome maintenance. Two different projects are being studied to address these issues. The first project involves studies of the heterochromatin of Drosophila. Heterochromatin is generally regarded as highly condensed, transcriptionally silent and capable of inducing gene repression. However, several genes are located within the heterochromatin and when these genes are displaced from heterochromatin by chromosome rearrangements, they show abnormal expression. In order to understand this phenomenon known as position effect variegation and the function of heterochromatin in general, Dr. Wakimoto and colleagues are combining genetic, cytogenetic and molecular tools to understand the structure and regulatory requirements of heterochromatic genes.
A second major research goal is to understand the regulation of events that control chromosome decondensation and remodeling of the sperm nucleus during early embryogenesis. These events occur in nearly all animal species and can be conveniently studied through the analysis of paternal effect mutations of Drosophila. Several paternal effect mutations are being studied genetically and molecularly in Dr. Wakimoto's laboratory with the goal of identifying the molecular components normally act to ensure sperm decondensation, the formation of the male pronucleus and the stable maintenance of the paternal chromosomes during embryogenesis.
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