Molecular genetics of the Development of the Vertebrate visual System/Gene Expression and Recombinant DNA technologies The Vision Molecular Biology Laboratory studies regulation of specific gene expression during differentiation and development of the vertebrate eye. Our focus is on the development of the lens and the retina. This involves isolation and characterization of genes and gene products, identification of the attendant regulatory elements and study of the regulatory controls in both in vivo and in vitro systems with manipulated gene sequences. Two areas of research currently under investigation are: 1). Molecular basis of the differential expression of the gene for the chaperone-like protein aB-crystallin, that shows elevated levels in AlzheimerÃÂs disease. At the present time we are studying the developmental and tissue-specific control of the heat shock promoter of the aB-crystallin gene and the biological function of its gene product. These studies encompass characterization of the transcriptional machinery (specific transcription factors/regulatory sequences) in the differentiating lens fiber cells, brain and cardiac tissues. 2). Molecular biological investigations into understanding the growth of the eye globe, its local control and its relationship to neurogenesis in the inner retina. These studies involve isolation and characterization of the developmentally regulated genes in the developing vertebrate retina.
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