Single Cell Analysis of Periocular Mesenchyme During Anterior Segment Development

Grants and Contracts Details


The vertebrate eye is a highly complex organ, made of different functional components. The acuity of vision mainly depends on the well-known neural retina on the one hand and the anterior segment on the other. Even though the latter is critically important, our knowledge about its origins and development is still limited. It is known, that a group of cells named periocular mesenchyme (POM) serves as the main source of the anterior segment. However, our understanding of molecular function and processes during POM development is scarce. Accordingly, diseases associated with anterior segment dysgenesis, like corneal dystrophy, cataracts Axenfeld-Rieger syndrome and several others, have no clear molecular explanation or treatment. So far, the molecular identity of POM can only be characterized by a few marker genes, mainly transcription factors, without knowing much about their actual function during development. One of these transcription factors, known to be crucially important, is Foxc1. In this study I propose to analyze the development of POM cells in zebrafish, by focusing on the molecular function of Foxc1b. I will characterize its regulation and expression and compare it between different developmental stages. For this, I will generate single-cell transcriptomes, which will also enable us to identify further POM specific genes and even potential interacting partners of Foxc1b. This will drastically increase our understanding of POM development and ultimately help to develop screening for anterior segment associated diseases.
Effective start/end date7/1/1911/30/20


  • Knights Templar Eye Foundation Inc: $65,000.00


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