Meyerhoff Graduate Fellows Program

Student Profiles

Lathiena Manning
Biological Sciences

Area of Doctoral Study: Biological Sciences
Undergraduate Institute: Bowie State University

Research Mentor: Michelle Starz-Gaiano, Ph.D.

Description of Research

My Ph.D.  thesis proposes to understand the molecular mechanisms that allow the reorganization of adhesions and the ability for cells to gain motility while in a cohesive group. During Drosophila oogenesis, a small population of migratory cells, referred to as border cells, detach from the anterior epithelium and migrate posteriorly toward the oocyte while remaining in a cluster.  Border cells display the characteristics of collective cell migration as they move.  We have found that border cell detachment and migration can be genetically separated and that detachment depends on proper control of STAT signaling. We are using a combination of genetic, immunohistological, and live-imaging approaches to define the changes in adhesive properties as cells disconnect from their neighbors.  One adhesion molecule known to play a role in border cell migration is E-Cadherin, which mediates homophilic cellular adhesions associated with adherens junctions.  Our preliminary evidence implicates additional adhesion molecules aside from E-cadherin in border cell movement.  In addition, our improved imaging techniques suggest that asymmetry in the specification of border cells may be required for their efficient detachment.  These improved characterizations of the adhesion changes required for epithelial detachment will lead to an enhanced general understanding of cell migration.
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