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Access Type

Open Access

Document Type


Degree Program

Neuroscience & Behavior

Degree Type

Master of Science (M.S.)

Year Degree Awarded


Month Degree Awarded



The wnt family of secreted glycoproteins perform diverse roles from development through adulthood in both vertebrate and invertebrate organisms. These roles include the establishment of multiple body axes, cell polarity and migration during gastrulation, and prevention of tumorigenesis during adulthood. Much research has been performed to examine the function of the different wnt genes, however, some have received relatively little investigation.
One of the relatively unknown wnt genes is wnt5b. My work has been characterizing a zebrafish with a mutation in the wnt5b gene, looking for mutations that caused defects in axonal and glial patterning during embryonic development. Previously, wnt5b has been shown to influence planar cell polarity, and has been found to inhibit zebrafish fin regeneration and implicated as an inducer of type II diabetes. However, little research has been performed to investigate its role in the development of the nervous system.
Here I show that wnt5b plays a direct role in regulating proliferation of radial glial cells in the embryonic zebrafish spinal cord. Zebrafish with mutations in this gene have a increased number of radial glial cells that are in m-phase, compared to wild type embryos. I also show that wnt5b gain of function is sufficient to reduce this number well below wild type levels. Here I will present findings that, when combined with what has been previously found about the roles of wnt5b and its link to leukemia and mammary tumors, suggests that wnt5b may be a candidate for further study as a route to cancer therapy.


First Advisor

Rolf Karlstrom

Second Advisor

Michael Barresi