The fundamental question that drives my research is: "How a single cell, the fertilized egg, develips into an animal with thousands of distinct type of cells - muscle cells, neurons, epidermal cells, blood cells, and so on?" We are particularly interested in the cellular and molecular mechanisms that control the development and growth of muscle cells. Specifically, we use zebrafish as a model system to investigate the role of growth factors (Hedgehog) and their downstream transcriptional factors (Glis) in the formation muscle cells during embryogenesis.
Recently, we have made two accomplishments in our research. 1) we have isolated a trascription ffact of Gli2/4 from zebrafish and demonstrated that it is essential for the development and growth of red muscles in fish. A manuscript for publishing this work has been submitted. 2) we have created a transgenic zebrafish line that carries the hedgehog gene promoted linked with a reporter gene GFP. This transgenic line provides an excellent model for studying the regulation of hedgehog gene expression. Results from these studies will further enhance our understanding on mechanism of muscle cell formation. A manuscript is in preparation for publishing this result.
Du, S.J., Devoto, S., Westerfield, M. and Moon, R.T. (1997). Positive and negative regulation of muscle cell identity by members of the hedgehog and TGF- gene families. J. Cell Biol. 139, 145-156.