Dr. Julia Oxford
Zebrafish (Danio rerio) are progressively becoming more popular as a model organism for research. The use of zebrafish is advantageous for several reasons. Zebrafish exhibit high fecundity, and are easy to maintain in large numbers. The embryos produced are transparent, and have fewer cells than many other vertebrates. The embryos develop from a single cell to a small fish within 24 hours, which allows the research process to advance quickly. Also, the existence of the embryo outside of the mother allows for direct access. Using zebrafish as a model organism, the aim of this project is to determine the function of Collagen a1(XI) during early development. To begin with, it is imperative that the zebrafish are kept healthy. Hence, we control the water quality and nutrition of the zebrafish. The healthy zebrafish are then able to breed. The embryos are collected and their RNA is extracted for RT-PCR. Then anti-sense ribo-probes are synthesized for in situ hybridization to determine when Collagen a1(XI) is being expressed during embryonic development. To study the function of Collagen a(XI), we microinject anti-sense mopholinos into 1-2 cell stage embryos to diminish its expression. Combining these techniques, we are able to determine the function of Collagen a1(XI) by comparing the phenotypes of the morphants to those of controls.