Our group focuses on the functional analysis of polycystic kidney disease-relevant genes and pathways. In particular, we are interested in Target of Rapamycin (TOR) – signalling. We are using the nematode Caenorhabditis elegans to characterize gene functions and dissect the genetic pathway.
C. elegans as a model organism
The nematode C. elegans is an excellent model to study functions and interactions of human disease genes. Genes linked to human diseases often function in evolutionarily conserved pathways, which can be readily dissected in simple model organisms. The simple anatomical organisation, powerful genetics and well-known biology, coupled with a completely sequenced genome that shares extensive homology with that of mammals, make C. elegans one of the most versatile and powerful model organisms. In addition to genetic analyses, the animals are amenable to biochemical manipulation allowing the identification of protein interactions and dissection of entire regulatory pathways.
Research in C. elegans has provided fundamental insight into kidney-specific signalling mechanisms, including polycystic kidney disease and aspects of kidney development.