the community site for and by developmental biologists

About: mathewaw

My name is Andrew Mathewson. I am a second year graduate student in the Moens lab at the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center in the University of Washington’s Molecular and Cellular Biology program, located in Seattle, WA. Born and raised in Oregon, I earned my BA in Biology at Whitman College in Walla Walla, WA. I have always had a broad interest in biology, so when I joined the University of Washington in 2010 I rotated in a wide variety of labs. After investigating mitochondrial DNA mutational dynamics in mammalian cells and looking a aging in yeast, I fell in love with cellular imaging in zebrafish. This is why I chose to join the Moens lab where I now study cellular migration during zebrafish development. I am currently interested in the precise migratory events that help establish working neural networks in the brain. In the vertebrate hindbrain, the facial branchiomotor neurons (FBMNs) undergo a stereotyped posterior migration from rhombomere (r) 4 to r6. Forward genetic screens in the zebrafish for FBMN migration mutants have identified mutations in most of the components of the Planar Cell Polarity (PCP) pathway except for the protein Disheveled (Dvl). The PCP pathway is a cell-contact dependent mechanism for generating polarity in the plane of an epithelium, however the role of PCP in cell migration is poorly understood. I have found that expression of the PCP-specific dominant negative Dvl (Dvl-DEP+) specifically in FBMNs prevents their migration, demonstrating that FBMNs require Dvl activity and suggesting that the core PCP pathway is used to generate directional migration cell-autonomously, which was previously disputed. I hypothesize that PCP signaling between the planar polarized cellular environment in the hindbrain and the migrating FBMNs is required and possibly sufficient for directional migration. To examine the role of PCP signaling in establishing early FBMN polarity as well as its role in maintaining directional information throughout their migration, I propose to use inducible and tissue-specific Dvl-DEP+ expression to disrupt PCP signaling in migrating FBMNs and in their migratory environment in a temporally and spatially restricted manner. I am currently generating Gal4 and UAS transgenic lines to drive rhombomere- and floorplate-restricted Dvl-DEP+ expression to test where in the environment PCP signaling is required for normal FBMN migration. Together with these tools I will be able to determine the role of PCP in directing neuronal migration. Related to my interests in biological imaging, I am an enthusiastic amateur photographer who enjoys backpacking in the wilderness with friends. I was a radio DJ in college and now I occasionally put together mixes and perform for small events. I enjoy biking to work and walking my cat on a leash (really). When I am not in lab I am playing Frisbee or obsessively surfing the Internet. I also enjoy teaching and frequently volunteer with students in the Seattle area to raise awareness regarding career opportunities in scientific research.

Posts by mathewaw:

A Day in the Life of… a Zebrafish lab

Posted by on October 8th, 2013

My name is Andrew Mathewson and I am a fourth year graduate student in the University of Washington’s Molecular and Cellular Biology program. Whereas most my friends from college are pursuing productive careers in medicine, social justice, or environmental preservation (or just trying to get by), I spend most my days deep in a basement[…]

Fast times at MBL

Posted by on June 19th, 2012

Sitting down to write this reflection, it struck me that I couldn’t believe it has really been two weeks since I arrived in the quiet town of Woods Hole, MA for the Embryology course at the Marine Biological Laboratory (MBL). Time has become an abstract concept for my fellow students and me; it seems like[…]