At the same time embryogenesis is one of the most basic phenomena, it is one of the most complex processes in biology. Embryogenesis unfolds into a variety of specific, inter-related issues whose understanding requires an integrated approach at the morphological, cellular, genetic, and molecular levels. For many years, our research group has been investigating the structure, function, and spatial and temporal regulation of the protein Roughest (Rst) of Drosophila melanogaster. This protein is a prototype member of the family Neph-Rst, a group of transmembrane glycoproteins of immunoglobulins phylogenetically maintained from nematoda to humans. It is involved in a wide variety of adhesion and signaling processes during embryogenesis and post-embryogenesis. The present project aims to continue and expand such studies, in order to :
a) Understand the complex relationships among the diverse structural domains of the proteins belonging to the family Neph-Rst, as well as their multiple functions throughout development;
b) Contextually define and characterize their genic functions and signal transduction pathways capable of directly modulating the Rst activity both at the transcriptional and post-transcriptional levels, so as to achieve a global comprehension of its phenotypic multiplicity;
c) Establish the degree of conservation and evolutionary divergence between the molecular mechanisms underlying the functions of Rst in Drosophila and of its homologues in other organisms, specially vertebrates, and find out its implications for the evolution in the modes of embryogenesis in metazoa.