CCB Colloquium: Elizabeth Gavin

Date & Time

Dr. Elizabeth R. Gavin, Ph.D.,
DamonB. Pfeiffer Professor of MolecularBiology
Associated Faculty of the Princeton Neuroscience Institute
Princeton University

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.

About the Speaker

Elizabeth Gavis (Liz) is the Damon B. Pfeiffer Professor in the Life Sciences in the Department of Molecular Biology and an Associated Faculty of the Princeton Neuroscience Institute at Princeton University. She majored in Biology at Yale University, then completed the MSTPat Stanford University. After a postdoctoral fellowship at the WhiteheadInstitute at MIT, Liz joined the Princeton faculty in 1994. Liz’s research bridges the disciplines of RNA biology and developmental biology. Her lab is particularly interested in how post-transcriptional gene regulation, particularly mRNA localization and translational control, orchestrates developmental events including body patterning, segregation of the germ line, and dendrite morphogenesis. Her lab pioneered the use of the MS2/MCP tagging method in Drosophila.In addition to mentoring students and postdocs in the lab, Liz serves as Director of Undergraduate Studies for the Dept. of Molecular Biology. She helped found the joint Princeton/Rutgers M.D./Ph.D. program and served as its first Princeton director. She has also served as President of the Drosophila Board of Directors and a member of the Board of Directors of the Society of Developmental Biology. Liz is an Associate Editor for the journal G3 and a member of several editorial boards. She has worked to promote the advancement of women in science, including participation in mentorship programs at Princeton, Hunter College, and The College of New Jersey.

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