My laboratory applies genetic, developmental, molecular, and cell biological approaches to study brain morphogenesis and myh9-related disease in the developing embryo using zebrafish (Danio rerio) as a model system.
Embryonic brain shape is highly conserved across vertebrate species indicating the unique and essential requirement of a shape-function relationship in early brain development. After neural tube formation and specification of different brain regions, the developing vertebrate brain bends multiple times to subdivide regions and pack itself into the skull. Abnormal brain shape is associated with birth defects including neural tube defects and hydrocephalus, and changes in cell shape are the basis for the process of embryonic morphogenesis. We are investigating the molecular mechanisms that regulate specific cell shape changes during the formation of the midbrain-hindbrain boundary.
Myh9-related disease encompasses a large spectrum of disorders all associated with mutations in myh9 which encodes for non-muscle myosin IIA. Symptoms of myh9-related disease vary from hematological conditions and kidney problems to deafness and cataracts. Despite a well-supported role for non-muscle myosin IIA in hearing, its mechanisms of action and precise function in the ear is unknown. Therefore, the focus of our myh9-related disease project is to understand the role of non-muscle myosin IIA in development and function of the ear.