Molecular Characterization of a Novel Superior Fissure during Ocular Morphogenesis

Grants and Contracts Details


Retinal morphogenesis requires precise execution in order to ensure proper establishment of binocular vision. Pediatric blindness often results from developmental deficiencies during retinal morphogenesis. Coloboma is a rare yet well defined pediatric blindness disorder characterized by the failure epithelial sheet fusion in the ventral cleft, referred to as an optic fissure. Recently we have discovered that normal vertebrate retinal morphogenesis actually requires two distinct evolutionarily conserved fusion events, one in the ventral cleft and one in a newly identified dorsal cleft, referred to as a superior fissure. Similar to coloboma, superior fissure fusion defects lead to vision impairment and ultimately affect similar tissues as observed in classical coloboma, ranging from retina to iris. The goal of this proposal is to delineate the molecular mechanisms regulating the formation and fusion of this novel anatomical feature of retinal morphogenesis. The unique highly transient nature of the superior fissure offers an opportunity to study the molecular mechanisms regulating epithelial sheet fusion in a very precise context and timeframe. We propose that regulation of superior fissure fusion likely parallels optic fissure fusion and therefore aim to examine cytoskeletal, polarity and extra cellular matrix signaling/regulation prior to and during the fusion event. Through the combination of real-time confocal microscopy and recent advances in genomic engineering technology we aim to model superior fissure formation, fusion and function using the highly versatile zerbrafish embryo system. Ultimately we strive to better understand the mechanisms governing retinal morphogenesis, with particular focus on epithelial sheet fusion of both fissures.
Effective start/end date7/1/166/30/17


  • Knights Templar Eye Foundation Inc: $65,000.00


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