How do connections between the proliferation and differentiation programs control the behaviour of neural progenitor cells in the retina? The detailed answer to this question will provide tremendous insight into processes involved in development and disease, including cancer. I propose to address this question by elucidating the genetic and biochemical cues that control the switch from cell proliferation to differentiation in retinal stem cells using zebrafish as a model system. To this end, I will isolate and study the functions of novel genes that control the switch from cell proliferation to differentiation.
These studies will yield new insight into the links between cell cycle progression and differentiation, especially into the key events of developmental biology. While discovering new genes is important, it does not contribute to our understanding of the function of already isolated genes. Thus, I plan to explore how the Wnt signalling pathways regulate neural progenitor behaviour in the zebrafish retina by manipulating the spatial and temporal activity of both the canonical and non-canonical Wnt pathways.
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