Characterization of neuron development in GDF11 zebrafish mutants
The zebrafish (Danio rerio) has become an excellent model organism for studying vertebrate development and disease. More than 1000 zebrafish mutants have been identified, where changes in specific genes have correlated with human defects. Many of these mutations occur in genes with orthologues in humans, leading to the creation of animal models that resemble human disease types. Examples of this are demonstrated by mutations seen in bone morphogenetic protein (BMP) family members in both humans and zebrafish. This project investigated whether mutations in the BMP growth differentiation factor 11 (GDF11) gene result in deficits during zebrafish neuron development. Neuronal development was characterized using in situ hybridization and immunofluorescence techniques. Changes in neuronal development were examined using probes recognizing neurons, including RMO44 and acetylated tubulin. Experimental results from this preliminary characterization contribute to the on-going characterization of phenotypes seen in GDF11 mutants.
Faculty Mentor: Dr. Lisa Prichard