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Molecular & Cellular Biology
Master of Science (M.S.)
Year Degree Awarded
Month Degree Awarded
Hedgehog signaling, reporter lines, zebrafish, Kaede, gli binding site
The Hedgehog (Hh) signaling pathway plays many important roles throughout embryonic development, including the regulation of tissue patterning, cell differentiation, proliferation, and apoptosis. The loss of SHH signaling in human development has been shown to cause holoprosencephaly. Conversely, inappropriately activated Shh signaling in adults has been implicated in many cancers. Furthermore, Shh has been found to be a key regulator of neural stem cells in the mammalian brain.
To further study the roles of Hh, I have developed a transgenic zebrafish line as a tool to monitor tissues that respond to Hh signaling throughout the vertebrate life-cycle. A number of genes have been identified that are transcriptionally up-regulated by Hh signaling. Transcription of these genes is initiated through binding of activated Gli transcription factors to an identified Gli binding site (GBS) in the cis-regulatory region. This Gli binding site is largely conserved across vertebrate species.
I have generated transgene constructs in which 12 GBSs have been placed upstream of a minimum promoter that drives GFP, RFP, or Kaede fluorescent proteins. These plasmid constructs are activated in embryonic regions known to be Hh responsive, such as the ventral CNS. Treatment with cyclopamine eliminates this expression, confirming that these transgenes accurately report an active Hh response. These transgenic lines will be extremely powerful tools for research into the mechanisms by which Hh signaling regulates adult cell types such as neural stem cells. These lines will also be important tools that will help understand how misregulation of Hh signaling can lead to cancer.