Faculty & Research
Susan G. Ernst
B.S. Zoology, Louisiana State University
Ph.D., University of Massachusetts, Amherst
Postoctoral Research: Case Western Reserve University, California Institute of Technology
Graduate Research Area:
Developmental Biology and
Genetics and Molecular Biology
embryogenesis, a developmental program encoded in the genome
orchestrates the formation of a three-dimensional organism.
Our interest is in informational molecules and mechanisms
that direct and regulate this process. Using the sea
urchin, a model developmental system, we ask a broad range
of questions focusing on oogenesis, early development and
cell differentiation, and how cell lineages are established.
Current investigations include:
- Endo16, a gene we isolated for its endoderm specific
expression encodes an extracellular protein on the
surface of cells of the invaginating gut during the
dramatic morphogenetic movements of gastrulation.
Results suggest that Endo16 functions in cell adhesion
through an RGD tripeptide positioned between two
calcium-binding regions. We are currently testing
several aspects of Endo16 function.
- Endo16 is a large modular glycoprotein that contains an
unusual cysteine pattern similar to that found in the
serum albumin protein family. Computational analysis
and comparison of Endo16 protein with other invertebrate
and vertebrate proteins is underway to decipher the
evolutionary relationships of this complex protein.
- We have demonstrated that very young sea urchin oocytes
maintain an asymmetrically localized Microtubule
Organizing Center (MTOC) that will become the animal
vegetal axis of the embryo. Investigations are underway
to establish when during oogenesis the MTOC first
appears and is localized.
Biology 103: Developmental Biology
Biology 292: Topics in Evolution and Development
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