As a graduate student in the Integrated Program in Biochemistry (IPiB), Tina Lynch studied germline stem cells, the cells that ultimately produce sperm and eggs, in roundworms. Lynch, a member of the Kimble Lab, was particularly interested in how these cells cluster: too many or too few germline stem cells in a cluster, and tissues won’t function properly. To answer some of her questions about clustering, she focused on one gene, sygl-1, and the role of DNA regulatory elements that govern its expression in response to Notch signaling.
“It’s convenient that I enjoy thinking about how biology is driven by the right number of molecules winding up in the right place at the right time – my project attempts to chip away at that very question as it relates to the development and function of the reproductive tissues that keep species alive through the millennia,” says Lynch.
Lynch has concluded that at least two neighboring Notch-responsive DNA binding sites are needed to produce enough sygl-1 molecules in stem cells to support adult stem cell maintenance and the next generation of roundworms. Her results advance our thinking about why DNA binding sites are often found in closely-spaced clusters.
To learn more about Lynch’s research, attend her Thesis Defense on Thursday, November 4. *Location changed to Room 175 of the Hector F. DeLuca Biochemistry Laboratories.*