Dr Tim Weil
Email (@cam.ac.uk): tw419
Research Interests: Question: How is translational regulation of key localized determinants coordinated to establish the body plan?
General Importance: Localized mRNA translation is a conserved mechanism for the spatial control of gene expression, enabling cells to target protein function in space and time. Functions requiring mRNA regulation include Drosophila and Xenopus axis formation, cell division in budding yeast, motility in chicken fibroblasts and synaptic plasticity in neurons. In humans, RNA localization plays a major role in Fragile X syndrome, Alzheimer disease as well as learning and memory development.
Vision: The overall objective of my work is to understand the cellular mechanisms underpinning the spatiotemporal coordination of the oocyte-to-embryo transition. I will focus on the anterior determinant bicoid (bcd), which is one of the best understood morphogens. Bcd protein initiates a cascade of developmentally regulated transcription factors that set up the embryonic body plan. This proposed research will fuse my previous work on bcd mRNA localization in the oocyte with my current work on dynamic partitioning of transcripts for translational control. My recent publication, coupled with exciting new data suggests that calcium is a key regulator of translational activation of bcd mRNA. My proposal will test this hypothesis and how bcd translation is regulated in space and time.