Understanding the Wnt Signaling Pathway through ALM Polarity

Summer 2017

Faustine Luo : Molecular & Cell Biology

Donor: Pergo Fund
Mentor: Gian Garriga

The Wnt signaling pathway is an evolutionarily conserved signal transduction pathway that regulates important developmental processes such as cell fate, cell migration, cell polarity, and cell proliferation when activated by secreted Wnt glycoproteins. Mutations in Wnt signaling or Wnt genes have been shown to lead to specific developmental defects, including many human diseases such as cancer. Using C. elegans as a model organism, we strive to more deeply understand how Wnt signaling shapes development in more complex organisms. My research project focuses on the Wnt pathway that establishes the polarity of ALMs, mechanosensory neurons sensing light touch in C. elegans. In particular, we will examine the interaction between CAM-1 and proteins VAB-8 and SRC-1 in hopes of understanding the mechanism of how Wnt signaling orients ALM polarity.

Research has always been a field of interest for me, since high school and throughout college. I am fascinated by the ongoing source of innovation that it provides to the world of medicine. At the same time, I am aware of research’s often endless investigation process. Though discouraging at times, this journey has helped me develop independence, self-motivation, and confidence in seeking answers to my queries. I am ​thus ​extremely grateful to have received the opportunity to​ have been funded by Pergo Fund this summer.​ Through interacting with fellow undergraduate researchers, and having the time to ​focus on research, I was able to ask more questions and to think critically about the science I study​. Not only so​,​ I was also able to see the innovative projects my peers have been working on, and was thoroughly inspired by their hard work. Thank you for making this program possible and for reminding us that together, we have the potential to positively impact the world.