The high incidence of larvae skeletal deformities is a significant problem in European marine aquaculture. This problem has a serious impact on the industry's productivity, on product quality and on animal welfare. The factors, which may cause skeletal anomalies in fish are largely unstudied, although in tetrapods there is ample evidence that PTHrP plays a significant role in both normal and abnormal development and growth of the skeleton. Preliminary studies carried out by the CME group indicate that PTHrP may be implicated in skeletal deformities, which arise as a consequence of altered chondrogenesis and calcification.
Thus, the fundamental scientific objective of this project is to investigate the importance of the unique hypercalcemic factor identified in fish, PTHrP, in endochondral bone development and its application as a possible marker for skeletal anomalies in fish. This will be achieved through the application of recombinant DNA and gene transfer technology as a tool for the induction of PTHrP gene over expression in fish embryos. The present project programme will therefore aim to establish unequivocally the role of PTHrP in chondrogenesis and skeletal development and link this to skeletal abnormalities. Several objectives have been identified which will contribute to the overall achievement of the aim.
Firstly, obtention of PTHrP expression construct and its microinjection into fertilized fish eggs; Secondly, assessment the ectopic expression of PTHrP in notochord cells of fish embryos and finally, evaluation the influence of PTHrP in the development of axial skeleton. Moreover, additional objectives of this research proposal are to promote the scientific development of the applicant and transfer the technology and knowledge acquired at the host institute during the visit to USA to the CME group at the return host institute. This will be important for the development of these groups' objectives but will also benefit the whole academic community.
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