Queen's University

Dr. Ian Chin-Sang

Professor, Department of Biology


We use the genetic model organism Caenorhabditis elegans to study how animals develop. The transparency and distinct anatomy of C. elegans allow us to analyze development at the single cell level. My lab uses genetic, molecular biology, biochemistry, and state of the art video microscopy techniques to elucidate the genetic and molecular mechanisms that control cell shape, cell movement, cell division and cell fate. 

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{photo credit: Department of Biology, Bernard Clark}

Most Recent Project

Mechanosensation circuitry in Caenorhabditis elegans: A focus on gentle touch

Forward or reverse movement in C. elegans is the result of sequential Peptides Journal Covercontraction of muscle cells arranged along the body. In larvae, muscle cells are innervated by distinct classes of motorneurons. B motorneurons regulate forward movement and A motorneurons regulate backward movement. Ablation of the D motor neurons results in animals that are uncoordinated in either direction, which suggests that D motorneurons regulate the interaction between the two circuits. C. elegans locomotion is dictated by inputs from interneurons that regulate the activity of motorneurons which coordinate muscle contraction to facilitate forward or backwards movement. As C. elegans moves through the environment, sensory neurons interpret chemical and mechanical information which is relayed to the motor neurons that control locomotory direction. A mechanosensory input known as light nose touch can be simulated in the laboratory by touching the nose of the animal with a human eyebrow hair. The recoil reaction that follows from light nose touch appears to be primarily mediated by glutamate release from the polymodal sensory neuron ASH.

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Other Projects

  • Molecular Genetics of C. elegans Development

    My lab is interested in the process of morphogenesis, the development of shape and form. What are the molecules that regulate the behaviour of cells as they change their shape, position and adhesiveness to generate their three-dimensional form during morphogenesis?

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