The Churchill Group, The Jackson Laboratory
The Jackson Laboratory
600 Main Street
Bar Harbor, Maine, 04609
As part of my doctoral research, I characterized inbred strain differences in gene expression in the mouse gonad at the critical time point of primary sex determination. The gonad is unique among organs as it initially develops as a bipotential primordium and can differentiate into a testis or an ovary. The bipotential gonad primordium is balanced between both sexual fates, and many genes later associated with a specific sex are coexpressed at this early stage. This transient balanced state is then disrupted to initiate and reinforce sexual differentiation. Importantly, failure to initiate or reinforce one sexual fate causes adoption of the alternative fate (i.e. sex reversal). These properties make the gonad primordium an ideal setting for developing predictive mathematical models of cell differentiation during organogenesis.
My postdoctoral research will expand on this earlier work by mapping gonad expression QTLs in the new Diversity Outcross (DO) population. With this wealth of genetic and expression data, we will develop predictive network models of sex determination that can be tested in the Collaborative Cross (CC) panel of recombinant inbred strains.