Department of Ophthalmology
Bioinformatics; Cell growth, differentiation and development; Gene Expression; Genomics and proteomics; Molecular genetics; Stem Cells; Transcription and Translation; Transgenic organisms; Vision science
My lab is interested in how global gene expression advances from one state to the next in time and space during development to promote the specification and differentiation of individual retinal cell types from multi-potent neural progenitor cells. We focus on the gene regulatory network (GRN) involved in the formation of one retinal cell type, retinal ganglion cells (RGCs). RGCs are the only projection neurons in the retina and connect the retina to the brain through the optic nerve. Death of RGCs is cause of vision loss in glaucoma and other retinal diseases. Several key transcription factors (TFs) functioning at different stages of RGC development have been identified; Math5 is essential for RGC fate specification, whereas Pou4f2 and Isl1 are required for their differentiation. Our previous study has established a tentative model for the RGC GRN, in which these TFs occupy key node positions. Current projects in the lab are aimed at further understanding how these transcription factors specifically regulate their target genes and how they interact with each other. Considerable efforts are also placed on identifying novel key regulators in the GRN. Our studies employ a combined approach of genetics, genomics and bioinformatics. Our eventual goal is to use the knowledge learned from our studies to develop new therapies for various retinal diseases.