About Livia

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  • Current: graduate student pursuing a PhD in Molecular, Cellular, and Developmental Biology at The Graduate Center, CUNY
  • Masters work in Structural Biology group of Dr. Christopher Lima at Sloan Kettering Institute
  • BA/MA degree in Biology with specialization in Biotechnology, 2011, Hunter College


Research interest:

I am interested in the process of transcriptional gene regulation and so I have chosen to pursue my doctoral work in Dr. Bratu’s lab. The lab uses the fruit fly oocyte as a model system.

Before fertilization, an oocyte develops in an egg chamber as one of the 16 nurse cells. The oocyte is transcriptionally silent, with the nurse cells providing all of the factors that are necessary for its growth.  Maternal factors (transcripts and proteins) are transported into the oocyte via cytoplasmic bridges, and localize via active transport facilitated by motor proteins traveling on the microtubule cytoskeleton. The maternal mRNAs, bicoid, gurken and oskar are responsible for establishing axial patterning in the oocyte and therefore are critical for the formation of the body axes of the future embryo.

 As an mRNA is transcribed in the nucleus of the nurse cells, many proteins bind to it, forming a ribonucleoprotein (mRNP) complex. This complex is necessary not only for the proper localization of the mRNA, but also for maintaining the mRNA translationally repressed during its transport. oskar mRNA is responsible for the development of the posterior structures in the adult fly and the mRNA is only translated upon localization to the posterior cortex in the oocyte. As oskar mRNA travels an exceptionally long distance until localized, it makes it one of the best mRNA to study long-range translation repression.

I have analyzed the effect of mutations in various genes that are components of the mRNP complex and are thought to play a role in the translational repression of oskar mRNA during transport. Now I am focusing on mutations in the cup gene that display a very strong defect in the egg chamber development. Cup has been shown to play a role not only in the repression of oskar mRNA translation, but also in its localization. Though the mechanisms of Cup’s functions are delineated, they are not clearly understood.  I will develop a thesis project focusing on oskar mRNA translation regulation during transport.


Last Updated ( Monday, 17 September 2012 13:00 )  

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