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The Richard Gomer Lab



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Richard Gomer
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Our laboratory is interested in the general problem of differentiation and morphogenesis. We are trying to understand at a molecular level some of the factors that determine the cell type into which an embryonic cell differentiates, how the ratios of the different cell types are then maintained in an organism, and how structure size is regulated.  

Lab Info  

The Richard Gomer lab is in the Department of Biochemistry and Cell Biology at Rice University in Houston, Texas.

As a model system, we are using the simple eukaryote Dictyostelium discoideum,  or as we call it Dicty.  Dicty live as single amoebae on soil surfaces where they eat bacteria and increase in number by fission.  When Dicty eventually overgrow their food supply and starve, they initiate a remarkable developmental pathway.  The goal of the starving cells is to get to another patch of soil, hopefully where there is plenty of food so a new colony can be formed.  The amoebae therefore cooperate, aggregating to form a fruiting body made up of a mass of spore cells held off the ground by a thin column of stalk cells.  The spore cells can then be dispersed by wind or water to another area where hopefully conditions are better and a new colony can form.  Our lab is studying the mechanism by which Dicty determine if enough cells are starving and so its time to aggregate.  We are also studying how Dicty cells regulate the number of cells in each fruiting body, and how the cells decide whether to become a stalk or a  spore cell.  Understanding how these processes work in Dicty will help us understand how density sensing and differentiation work in more complex organisms.  

Contact Information

Richard H. Gomer
Howard Hughes Medical Institute
Department of Biochemistry and Cell Biology, MS-140
Rice University
6100 S. Main Street
Houston, Texas  77005-1892
(713) 348-4872

(713) 348-5154

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Last modified:
February 7, 2003