Masters Thesis

A study of the gene expression in zebrafish skin during early development

Recent studies have suggested that a close interaction between touch-sensing neurons and skin cells may not only be important for early development, but also for neuronal function and structure. In order to better understand the skin cell-neuron interaction we began to study the molecular basis of early skin development and general skin biology. Using RNA-seq, we generated comprehensive gene expression profiles for the different skin cell layers and non-skin cells at 20-SS, 52 hpf, and 72 hpf. Analyses of the RNA-seq data allowed for the identification of seven skin-enriched genes that have not been previously identified to be enriched in skin. Whole mount in-situ hybridization allowed us to obtain better spatial resolution of the expression of these genes. Functional studies using microinjection of morpholinos to block the expression of znfx1 and vgll1, has provided preliminary data demonstrating the partial knockdown of the znfx1 gene and skin deformity in vgll1 morphants