AVN Members : Dr. Roseline Godbout
Background: The central nervous system (CNS) consists of the brain, spinal cord and retina. Of these three tissues, the retina is the easiest to work with because it is well-characterized and relatively simple in structure. The retina originates from precursor cells that have the potential to differentiate into six classes of neuronal cells and one class of glial cell.
Goal: To identify and characterize genes involved in the differentiation of retinal precursor cells. We are particularly interested in genes that function as transcriptional regulators or as signaling molecules as they have the potential of affecting the expression of numerous genes during retinal development as well as in the tumour of the retina, retinoblastoma.
Experimental approach: We have used a variety of screening approaches to identify genes that are differentially expressed during retinal development and differentiation. Using these strategies, we identified the AP2 family of transcription factors as playing important roles in the developing retina. We are using RT-PCR, western blotting, in situ hybridization, immunohistochemistry and immunofluorescence to examine the expression profiles of AP2s in the developing retina. We are also using chromatin immunoprecipitation to identify targets of AP2 transcription factors in retina. For functional analyses, we are carrying in ovo electroporation in order to misexpress AP2s in the developing chick retina. We are also studying AP2delta knock-out mice to determine how loss of this transcription factor affects the retina and vision. In collaboration with Drs. Yves Sauve and Frederic Gaillard, we are studying the physiological consequence of inactivating AP2delta in the eye.