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The molecular regulation of pattern formation in zebrafish-do flies and fish use the same genes to regulate key events during the formation of the embryo

Faculty Mentor: Marcia O’Connell

Students: William Cavallo

In our lab we study the early development of the vertebrate species zebrafish. We are currently involved in studying a family of genes that are maternally inherited. My personal project is researching how the expression of a maternal mRNA called ElrA is regulated during development. ElrA codes for a CPEB (cytoplasmic polyadenylation element binding) protein which is responsible for activating polyadenylation of mRNAs which allows them to be translated. By following the expression of the ElrA mRNA, we can gain an insight into its expression and its potential regulation of other mRNAs. I have discovered that due to alternative splicing, there are two mRNA varients that are present in the zygote and I am now in the process of determining the quantitative presense of each of them in the developing organism and which, if not both, produces a functioning protein product. Future work wil involve quatitative analysis of the gene, as well as gel shift experiments with the Zorba protein that is believed to be involved in the regulation of th ElrA mRNA.