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Joshua Kavaler
Department of Biology
Colby College

The function of D-Pax2 in sensory system development

My lab is investigating the role of the transcription factor D Pax2 in the development of the mechanosensory organs and photosensory organs of Drosophila melanogaster.  Each sensory system or organ is composed of several different cell types with distinct functions. D Pax2 is expressed in a subset of cells in these organs and is involved in the appropriate differentiation of the cell types in which it is expressed.  As a transcription factor, it is responsible for regulating specific genes in these cells but, to date, no target genes controlled by D Pax2 have been identified.  We have begun to identify candidate targets of D Pax2.   One example of such a target is the gene Crystallin, which encodes the major lens protein in the eye.  Loss of D Pax2 function is associated with loss of Crystallin production and a poorly formed lens.  We are currently testing other potential target genes and examining how regulation of these targets by D Pax2 leads to cell differentiation.

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