Investigation of novel zebrafish cardiac morphogenesis mutants

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

To identify genes required for cardiac development, the lab has undertaken a forward genetic screen in zebrafish and screened for mutants with cardiac defects. This process involved mutagenizing animals, inbreeding to isolate recessive mutants with inherited heart abnormalities and mapping the causative mutation, identifying which genes are important for cardiac development. From this screen, we have identified several novel mutants and the affected genes are either completely novel or have not been previously implicated in heart development. The project will involve characterising the nature of the cardiac defect, the timing of the onset of the heart defect and may involve one or more of the following: determining the genetic pathway the gene functions in, which tissue the gene is expressed in, which cellular compartments are disrupted in mutants and whether the phenotype/s can be rescued by modification of downstream components.

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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