My lab is currently investigating how specific gene expression patterns arise and how they evolve to produce different tissues and life forms. Nature has been experimenting with gene networks for several million years to modify gene expression, cell fates and cell sizes, time of development and the organization of tissues. However, very little is known about how these changes are implemented in highly conservative systems to generate novel functions and adaptations. To address this problem, we have been using the fruit fly Drosophila melanogaster to investigate the patterning mechanisms that operate in the formation of the dorsal-ventral embryonic axis. This patterning is essential since it organizes three embryonic layers from which the epidermis, muscles and the nervous system later develop. Complementarily to this study, we also began comparing gene expression domains along the dorsal-ventral axis in closely related Drosophila species with virtually identical genomes, but distinct developmental times, body complexions and behaviors. By using a combination of genetic techniques to re-engineer cell fate and size, imaging, quantitative analyses of multiple gene expression and modeling, we expect to test the generality of the mechanisms uncovered by experimentation in D. melanogaster and identify genes that modulate the dorsal-ventral subdivision, allowing this pattern to evolve while preserving its basic functionality.
Priscilla Ambrosi, Juan Sebastian Chahda, Hannah R. Koslen, Hillel J. Chiel, Claudia Mieko Mizutani. Modeling of the Dorsal Gradient Across Species Reveals Interaction Between Embryo Morphology and Toll Signaling Pathway During Evolution. In Press. PLoS Computational Biology.
Chadha, J.S., Sousa-Neves, R and Mizutani, CM.* (2013) Variation in the Dorsal gradient distribution is a source for modified scaling of germ layers in different Drosophila species. Current Biology, (8):710-6.*Corresponding author.
Ambrosi, P, Chahda, J.S., Yang, E., Sousa Neves, R. and Mizutani, C.M.* (2013). An Evo-Devo perspective on hybrid infertility and speciation. In: Evolutionay Biology: Exobiology and Evolutionary Mechanisms. Chapter 18, 269-80. Ed: Pierre Pontarotti. Publisher: Springer. *Corresponding author
Belu, M. and Mizutani, C.M.*, Kosman, D., MacKay, D.**, Belu, M.**, Hermann, A., McGinnis, W., Bier, E., Hwa, T. (2011) “Gene length may contribute to graded transcriptional responses inthe Drosophila embryo”. Dev. Biol., Dec 1:360(1):230-40. *Equally contributing first authors. **Mizutani lab members. Selected cover feature.
Belu, M., Javier, M. Ayasoufi, K., Frischmann, S., Jin, C., Wang, K., Sousa-Neves, R., Mizutani, C.M.* (2010). Upright Imaging of Drosophila Embryos. J Vis Exp. 43. *Corresponding author.
Mizutani CM, Bier E. (2008) EvoD/Vo: the origins of BMP signalling inthe neuroectoderm. Nat Rev Genet. Sp; 9(9):663-77.
Mizutani, CM and Bier, E. The role of graded BMP signaling in patterning the neuroectoderm (2008). In: Encyclopedia of Neuroscience, 3rd Edition. Editor: Larry Squire. (Selected chapter published in Developmental Neurobiology book, Ed. Greg Lemke, publisher Elsevier).
Mizutani CM, Meyer N., Roelink H., and Bier, E. (2006). Threshold-dependent BMP-mediated repression: a model for a conserved mechanism that patterns the neuroectoderm. PLoS Biol. Oct;4(10):e313. *Recommended by the Faculty of 1000 as “must read” paper.
Mizutani CM, Nile Q, Wan FY, Zhang YT, Vilmos P, Sousa-Neves R, Bier E, Marsh JL. Lander AD (2005). Formation of the BMP activity gradient in the Drosophila embryo. Dev Cell. Jun;8(6):915-24.