Scott B. Ferguson
Department of Biology
Ph.D. – (Cell and Molecular Biology / Genetics and Gene Regulation)
B.S. – (Molecular Biology)
Courses Taught at Fredonia
Genetics – BIOL 237
Research Interests – Developmental Genetics in Drosophila melanogaster
Polarity is ubiquitous in biology from the level of individual cells to entire organisms. This fundamental property is critical for the ability of cells and tissues to perform their biological functions and has profound implications for understanding the mechanisms that drive the formation of cancer, neuronal development, and other aspects of human health. Polarity is often established through careful regulation of the localization and translation of mRNA transcripts that encode polarizing proteins. The Drosophila gurken (grk) gene is the source of one such mRNA that is required for establishing both the anterior/posterior and dorsal/ventral axes of the egg, a body plan that is maintained through embryogenesis. The levels of the Gurken (Grk) protein must be carefully controlled in order to avoid patterning defects. Excess Grk leads to ectopic dorsal fates whereas a reduction in Grk protein levels results in an expansion of ventral fates. This precise regulation and sensitive phenotypic readout make the grk mRNA an exceptional model system in which to study mechanisms of RNA localization and translational control. Furthermore, the Drosophila oocyte is a powerful experimental system that is amenable to genetic manipulation, microscopic examination, and biochemical analysis. It has recently been shown that the control of Grk signaling occurs in part through modulation of translation initiation of the grk mRNA. The regulation of grk translation is complex and many unexpected signaling pathways influence this process. These pathways include a DNA repair checkpoint, hnRNP assembly, and insulin / TOR signaling. The members of these signaling cascades are well conserved in humans and impact susceptibility to cancer as well as diabetes and immune function. The goal of the work in my lab is to address the mechanisms by which these pathways regulate the translation of grk in response to spatial, temporal, and metabolic cues.
Blundon, MA, *Hindes, DE, Ferguson, SB (in preparation) IRES Activity in gurken Translation.
Blundon, MA, *Doyle, CL, *Hindes, DE, and Ferguson, SB. Reduced TOR Activity Promotes Cap-Independent Translation of Gurken During Drosophila Oogenesis (2012) GSA Drosophila Research Conference 53rd Annual Meeting.
*Undergraduate research students