Formation of the trabecular layer during cardiac development

Research Opportunity
PhD students, Honours students, Master of Biomedical Science
Number of Honour Places Available
Number of Master Places Available
Primary Supervisor Email Number Webpage

Summary "The focus of the Smith group is to identify the genetic and cellular processes that regulate heart development. The heart develops by differentiating and integrating multiple tissue types via a specific sequence of events to generate the stereotypical structure of the organ. The fact that this structure is more or less identical between individuals demonstrates that a tightly controlled genetic program instructs this process. The lab is interested in identifying the genes in this program, determining how they function and uncovering the cellular processes they regulate. We use the zebrafish model for much of our discovery-based projects. The zebrafish is an excellent genetic model and the transparency of the embryos and availability of fluorescent transgenic reporter lines permits live imaging of organogenesis. For particularly important projects, we translate our discoveries to the mouse models to investigate evolutionary conservation. The long-term objective of the lab is to contribute to our knowledge of how to build a heart, gathering along the way information that will assist bioengineering efforts and help with diagnosis and treatment of genetic-based heart disease. "

Project Details

The heart is the first functional organ of the body and has developed multiple specialisations to achieve efficient function during our continued lifespan. One such specialisation is the formation of the trabecular network – myocardial protrusions towards the lumen of the ventricles. They arise during embryonic stages and contribute to different aspects of heart development, including the formation of the conduction system. Despite its importance for cardiac morphogenesis, not much is known about how trabeculae emergence is controlled. Our lab has developed a transgenic tool which allows to visualize the emerging trabecular cardiomyocytes in vivo in the zebrafish heart. We developed additional genetic and transgenic models which will allow us to characterize the formation of the trabecular network and what are the mechanisms controlling the emergence of trabecular cardiomyocytes. Methods used in the project will include embryology (of zebrafish), drug and chemical treatments, genetic crosses, molecular techniques (such as DNA extraction, PCR, gel electrophoresis, RNA synthesis), phenotypic screening by bright-field and fluorescence microscopy, confocal microscopy, image analysis and data quantification.   

Research Opportunities

PhD students, Honours students, Master of Biomedical Science
Students who are interested in joining this project will need to consider their elegibility as well as other requirements before contacting the supervisor of this research

Graduate Research application

Honours application

Key Contact

For further information about this research, please contact a supervisor.

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