Control of Animal Development by Steroid Hormones and Evaluation of Microarray Data

Biological Sciences: Craig Woodard (Mount Holyoke College)
Math and Statistics: Ji Young Kim (Mount Holyoke College)

We study metamorphosis in the fruitfly, Drosophila melanogaster as a model system in which to examine the control of animal development by steroid hormones. Steroid hormones act in conjunction with receptor proteins to regulate the expression of target genes, ensuring that these genes are activated in the right tissues (tissue-specific gene induction) and at the right times (stage-specific gene induction). The goal of our research is to answer one of the central questions of developmental biology – how can a single hormonal signal elicit different responses at different times and in different tissues during development? We are investigating the tissue- and temporal-specific regulation of gene expression during Drosophila metamorphosis using DNA microarrays to identify differential gene expression. We are now developing the mathematical tools required to link gene expression information to developmental events. Furthermore, for clusters of relevant genes, we intend to investigate the transcriptional regulatory network by studying the relationship between gene expression and transcription factors through shrinkage methods.