The Department of Biomedicine

BBB seminar: Anders Fjose

Molecular and transgenic analysis of eye development in zebrafish

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Anders Fjose
Department of Molecular Biology, University of Bergen

Zebrafish (Danio rerio) has since the 1980s been used as a genetic and experimental model to study developmental processes. In particular, with respect to our understanding of eye development, investigations on the zebrafish model have made important contributions. Regulatory proteins that have been shown to control several steps in eye development include homeodomain-containing transcription factors belonging to the Pax and Six families. Using molecular and transgenic methods, we have obtained information about the functional roles of several of these transcription factors. Connected to this work, we have revealed how the use of small interfering RNA (siRNA) to knock down expression of specific genes may also cause unspecific effects in zebrafish embryos by inhibiting the microRNA pathway. As part of our research on the mechanisms that control cell proliferation, specification and differentiation in the retina, we have used a new type of transposon vector to generate gene/enhancer trap lines expressing Gal4-VP16 and eGFP in specific eye cells. Similar to mammals, the zebrafish retina contains seven major cell types and these can be further classified into distinct subtypes; perhaps as many as 60 in total. Hence, the new gene/enhancer trap lines will help us to identify novel regulatory genes associated with the generation of these different populations of retina cells. Furthermore, they will provide tools for expressing previously known regulatory genes (including dominant negative versions of these) in specific cell populations in the retina, and in this way contribute to elucidate the underlying regulatory networks.

Chair: Anders Molven <anders.molven@gades.uib.no>, The Gade Institute