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Dr Philip Zegerman


Screen for factors that regulate the timing of the early embryonic divisions of Caenorhabditis elegans    In the early Caenorhabditis elegans embryo, asymmetric cell divisions produce descendants with asynchronous cell cycle times. The mechanism by which anterior-posterior (A-P) polarity controls differential timing of cell division in early C.elegans embryos remains to be found. As in other metazoa, such as flies and frogs, these early embryonic cell cycles lack G1 and G2 phases, so differences in the rate of DNA replication i.e S-phase are likely to account for the asynchrony in the early divisions1. Indeed mutations or knock downs of essential DNA replication factors lengthens S-phase and causes changes to the proper cell fate patterning in the early embryo2. It is possible therefore that AP polarity directly affects the rate of DNA replication in different cell types.  The aim of this project is to understand how cell cycle length is regulated in the early divisions of the C.elegans embryo. This will involve developing novel assays to measure the timing and duration of S-phase. Subsequently these assays will form the basis of an RNAi screen for new genes involved in the regulation of cell cycle length in the early embryonic divisions of C.elegans.


  1. Edgar, L. G. and J. D. McGhee (1988). "DNA synthesis and the control of embryonic gene expression in C. elegans." Cell 53(4): 589-99. 
  2. Encalada, S. E., P. R. Martin, et al. (2000). "DNA replication defects delay cell division and disrupt cell polarity in early Caenorhabditis elegans embryos." Dev Biol 228(2): 225-38.

Dr Philip Zegerman

Dr Philip Zegerman
Department of Zoology
Office Phone: 01223 334132

Second supervisor:

Julie Ahringer