Gene regulation in the developing retina and the childhood eye cancer retinoblastoma

Research Opportunity
PhD students
Department / Centre
Paediatrics
Location
Royal Melbourne Hospital,Murdoch Children's Research Institute (MCRI)
Primary Supervisor Email Number Webpage
Prof David Eisenstat david.eisenstat@mcri.edu.au
Co-supervisor Email Number Webpage
Dr Maree Faux maree.faux@mcri.edu.au

Summary Retinoblastoma is the most common eye cancer of infancy and childhood; these tumours are considered to be developmental in origin. The seven cell types of the retina all derive from a pool of retinal progenitor cells (RPC). The distalless (DLX) family of evolutionarily-conserved homeobox genes encode transcription factors expressed in the developing and mature retina as well as the majority of retinoblastoma tumours examined to date. The DLX transcription factors are necessary for retinal ganglion cell (RGC) development, in part due to direct regulation of other transcription factors that are either activated or repressed during eye development. The student will undertake RNAseq and ChIPseq studies in the developing mouse retina to identify DLX2 gene regulatory networks, validate in transgenic mouse models available in the laboratory and assess expression of these DLX2 targets in retinoblastoma and/or retinal organoids. The student will also contribute to the generation of a conditional, retina-specific knockout of Dlx2 or both Dlx1/Dlx2 in the developing and/or postnatal mouse. The student will learn key methods in molecular, cell and developmental biology, including primary cell culture, 3D organoids, and advanced microscopy skills. The student should preferably have an undergraduate or advanced background in cell, developmental and/or molecular biology.

Project Details

Retinoblastoma is the most common eye cancer of infancy and childhood; these tumours are considered to be developmental in origin. The seven cell types of the retina all derive from a pool of retinal progenitor cells (RPC). The distalless (DLX) family of evolutionarily-conserved homeobox genes encode transcription factors expressed in the developing and mature retina as well as the majority of retinoblastoma tumours examined to date. The DLX transcription factors are necessary for retinal ganglion cell (RGC) development, in part due to direct regulation of other transcription factors that are either activated or repressed during eye development. The student will undertake RNAseq and ChIPseq studies in the developing mouse retina to identify DLX2 gene regulatory networks, validate in transgenic mouse models available in the laboratory and assess expression of these DLX2 targets in retinoblastoma and/or retinal organoids. The student will also contribute to the generation of a conditional, retina-specific knockout of Dlx2 or both Dlx1/Dlx2 in the developing and/or postnatal mouse. The student will learn key methods in molecular, cell and developmental biology, including primary cell culture, 3D organoids, and advanced microscopy skills. The student should preferably have an undergraduate or advanced background in cell, developmental and/or molecular biology.



Faculty Research Themes

School Research Themes

Cancer in Medicine, Child Health in Medicine



Research Opportunities

PhD students
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.

Department / Centre

Paediatrics

Research Node

Royal Melbourne Hospital,Murdoch Children's Research Institute (MCRI)

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