ICM Seminar: Calcium signaling and cytoskeletal reorganization in the C. elegans reproductive system

  • Date: –16:00
  • Location: Biomedicinskt centrum, BMC C8:305
  • Lecturer: Professor Erin Cram, Professor of Biology at Northeastern University
  • Organiser: Sebastian Deindl
  • Contact person: Andrea Hinas
  • Seminarium

Title: "Calcium signaling and cytoskeletal reorganization in the C. elegans reproductive system"

Abstract: Cells in biological tubes must collectively respond to changes in flow and pressure by expanding or contracting in a coordinated manner. Inappropriate responses to these changing mechanical states underlie conditions such as heart disease, hypertension and asthma. Despite insights from biophysics and from cell biology on engineered substrates, many important questions remain regarding how mechanical information is sensed and integrated by cells to produce a coordinated tissue-level response. For example, how do cells ‘know’ they have been stretched? How is contraction regulated in space and time? How do different types of cells within a tissue coordinate their actions? To address these questions, we have developed a novel model system, the C. elegans spermatheca, a tubular tissue in the nematode's reproductive system comprised of 24 smooth-muscle-like cells, which connect to the uterus via a toroidal valve. We have discovered that oocyte entry induces calcium pulses that sweep across the tissue, culminating in a coordinated contraction that pushes the fertilized embryo into the uterus. In addition, stretch-induced contractility induces maturation of the actin cytoskeleton from a loose meshwork into aligned and oriented actomyosin bundles. Well conserved gene networks regulate these processes, suggesting broad applicability of our findings to other contractile systems.