Yen-Ta completed successfully his Master's degree at the National Taiwan University and then worked in Institute of Cellular and Organismic Biology, Academia Sinica, Taiwan.
Since September 2009, he has been a member of the IGSDHD program

Rotations in the group of: Roth's Lab, Leptin's Lab, and Uhlirova's Lab

He works on his thesis project in the group of Prof. Dr. Roth.
The establishment of the embryonic axes among metazoans is one of the most important topics in the field of Evolutionary Developmental Biology (Evo-Devo). The fruit fly, Drosophila melanogaster, have been used as a model animal of arthropods to study the generation of dorsal-ventral (DV) polarity for a long time. However, the long-germ type of embryogenesis in Drosophila is highly divergent from other arthropods. Here, we use some basal insects with ancestral traits trying to understand how the DV axis is established in arthropods.

The role of Toll/NF?B signaling in dorsal-ventral pattering of milkweed bug (Oncopeltus fasciatus)

The establishment of dorsal-ventral (DV) axis in the Drosophila melanogaster embryo relies on the Toll/ Dorsal signaling pathway. The Dorsal protein, which is homologous to the mammalian NF?B and downstream of Toll signaling, forms a nuclear gradient to determine different cell fates along the DV axis in Drosophila. Toll-like receptors (TLRs) have been found to participate in the pathogen defense in insects, nematodes and vertebrates indicating that Toll signaling plays an ancestral role for innate immunity, but not for DV patterning. Studies on the short-germ beetle Tribolium castaneum show that Tribolium utilizes the same genes as Drosophila to patternDV axis, but in a very different way. Multiple levels of feedback control lead to a self-regulatory circuit, which governs DV axis formation in Tribolium. The importance of BMP signaling in establishing DV polarity within ectoderm, which is highly conserved within bilaterian animals, is increased in Tribolium compared to Drosophila. This suggests that Toll signaling was recruited for new functions of DV axis patterning and partially substituted BMP signaling. We want to explore whether the DV function of Toll is an evolutionary novelty that arose within the instect lineage, and to investigate how the relative roles of Toll and BMP signaling have changed in the course of insect evolution. Therefore, we have extanded the work on Tribolium by studying more basal insects like hemipteran Oncopeltus fasciatus.