Mentor: Dr. Xanta Karp
Analyzing the relationship between daf-16 and the let-7 family of microRNAs in C. elegans dauer larvae
Stem cells are multipotent and quiescent. They can divide into more than one type of cell and can exit the normal cell cycle division pattern to enter a nondivision state. This ability is greatly reduced or lost over time. The model organism Caenorhabditis elegans is a nematode with the ability to maintain cell multipotency during quiescence. C. elegans can go into a quiescent stage called dauer where its cells remain multipotent. daf-16 is a gene that is important in the maintenance of multipotency during dauer. The let-7 family of microRNAs is a group of genes that promote cell differentiation by opposing multipotency. daf-16 appears to be a target of let-7 meaning that let-7 could downregulate daf-16 suggesting a potential feedback loop between the two genes.