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A22: Differentiation and maintenance of zebrafish photoreceptor polarity

Project leader: Prof. Dr. E. Knust

Cell polarity plays an important role in the retinal neuroepithelium cells and in differentiating and differentiated photoreceptor cells (PRCs). During differentiation, proper polarity is required for the reorganisation of the apical surface, including the cilium, into the elaborated photoreceptive membrane. We are interested to unravel the molecular and cell biological mechanisms, which are involved in the establishment and maintenance of this highly asymmetric organisation of PRCs. The evolutionarily conserved transmembrane protein Crumbs (Crb) and its associated proteins have been demonstrated to play a crucial role in PRC polarity and homeostasis of both invertebrates and vertebrates by maintaining the apical membrane domain during morphogenesis and when exposed to light-induced stress. In fact, in both human and Drosophila, loss of Crb1/crb leads to blindness.

The project presented here aims to contribute to our understanding of the cell biological functions of Crb for the differentiation and maintenance of the apical membrane, using the zebrafish photoreceptor cells as model. We could show that PRCs with impaired crb2b function develop longer outer segments, a unique phenotype not observed in any other mutant affecting photoreceptor cells described so far. Future research aims to unravel the cell biological mechanisms that determine the correct proportions of PRCs, which is crucial for their function.


« January 2020 »

Funding program: