Douglas Houston, Ph.D.

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Doug Houston
Director, Developmental Studies Hybridoma Bank (DSHB)
PhD, University of Miami, 1999
Email: Phone:
(319) 335-1316
Lab Phone:
(319) 335-1317
257 Biology Building
129 East Jefferson St., Iowa City, IA 52242-1324
Google Scholar Link:

Research Areas

Research Summary

Localized molecules and maternal signalling pathways in vertebrate development

In many vertebrate eggs, fertilization initiates cortical/cytoplasmic rearrangements (cortical rotation), resulting in the transport of critical determinants to the future dorsal side. In the frog Xenopus, this event is mediated by microtubules and causes the localized activation of the Wnt signaling pathway dorsally. Wnts are key growth factors involved in many aspects of development and are often misregulated in cancers and other diseases. Similar cytoplasmic localizations and Wnt activation occur in many chordate embryos, suggesting a deeply conserved mechanism for patterning early embryos. Our lab is currently pursuing several main avenues of investigation:  (1) identifying and characterizing the roles of asymmetrically-localized mRNAs and proteins in early dorsal axis formation, (2) elucidating mechanisms of microtubule assembly and orientation during cortical rotation and (3) determining how Wnt signaling is initiated and regulated on the dorsal side. We are addressing these questions using reverse-genetic antisense approaches in the amphibian Xenopus laevis. Additionally, we are  beginning to explore bona fide genetic manipulation of these processes in the genetically-tractable diploid frog species, Xenopus tropicalis

Keywords: developmental biology, germ cells, germ layer, localized RNAs, Wnt, axis formation, Xenopus

Selected Images

Fluorescent in situ hybridization showing trim36 RNA localization to the mitochondrial cloud of early stage Xenopus oocytes
Depletion of maternal trim36.
Immunostaining of microtubules at 80 minutes post fertilization in control (Uninjected), trim36-depleted eggs.