Dr. Laura NILSON
[visit the Nilson Lab Website]

Laura Nilson received a Ph.D. in Genetics from Yale University, where she studied the cellular mechanism of oncogenic transformation by bovine papillomavirus, a DNA tumor virus, in the laboratory of Daniel DiMaio. She then moved to the laboratory of Trudi Schüpbach, in the Department of Molecular Biology at Princeton University, as a National Cancer Institute postdoctoral fellow. While at Princeton Dr Nilson developed novel genetic strategies to study how the spatial information that establishes the dorsal-ventral axis of the Drosophila embryo is generated. Laura Nilson joined the Biology Department at McGill University in December 2000 as a Canada Research Chair in Developmental Genetics, and is a founding member of the DBRI.

Research in the Nilson laboratory

The research in Laura Nilson’s laboratory focuses on the mechanisms that generate asymmetry during development and ultimately produce a complex pattern of cell fate and function. This work utilizes the Drosophila ovary as a model system, where patterning along the dorsal-ventral axis of the somatic follicular epithelium is initiated by a single localized inductive signal from the underlying germline.

Using the powerful genetic and molecular tools available in this model organism, the laboratory is investigating the multiple steps of this process: the generation of a localized signal that induces cell fate, the regulation of differentiation in response to this signal, and the effectors of the differentiation program. This research program is also developing novel genetic tools to allow the identification of previously unknown genes required in the follicular epithelium for patterning of this somatic tissue or the underlying germline.

Selected Publications

Rounding Atkey, M.R., Boisclair Lachance, J.-F., Walczak, M., Rebello, T. and Nilson, L.A. (2006) Capicua regulates follicle cell fate in the Drosophila ovary through repression of mirror. Development 133: 2115-2123.

Laplante, C. and Nilson, L.A. (2006) Differential expression of the adhesion molecule Echinoid drives epithelial morphogenesis in Drosophila. Development 133: 3255-3264.

Pai, L.-M., Wang, P.-Y., Chen, S.-R., Barcelo, G., Chang, W.-L., Nilson, L.A. and Schüpbach, T. (2006) The Drosophila cbl gene downregulates Egfr signaling by two distinct mechanisms. Mechanisms of Development 123: 450-462.

Caceres, L. and Nilson, L.A. (2005) Production of gurken in the nurse cells is sufficient for axial patterning in the Drosophila oocyte. Development 132: 2345-2353.

Goff, D.J., Nilson, L.A. and Morisato, D. (2001) Establishment of dorsal-ventral polarity of the Drosophila egg requires capicua action in ovarian follicle cells. Development 128: 4553-4562.

Nilson, L.A., and Schüpbach, T. (1999) EGF receptor signaling in Drosophila oogenesis. Current Topics in Development Biology 44: 203-244.

Nilson, L.A., and Schüpbach, T. (1998) Localized requirements for windbeutel and pipe reveal a dorsoventral prepattern within the follicular epithelium of the Drosophila ovary. Cell 93: 253-262.


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