Characterizing epigenetic gene regulation in the developing chicken retinaUniversity of Maryland Baltimore County Undergraduate Research Symposium in the Chemical and Biological Sciences (2014)
The physical world is visualized through the retina, a layer of neuronal cells that lines the inside of the eye. These retinal neurons transmit signals to the brain creating images. Our lab focuses on how epigenetic modifications, namely DNA methylation, determine the fate of retinal neuron differentiation and the expression of retina-specific genes throughout the development of chicken embryos. In this study, whole retina samples were subject to DNA and RNA analysis. RNA expression and DNA methylation analysis were conducted for the Rbp3 and Pde6c genes in early and late chicken embryo retinas. DNA methylation analysis was completed utilizing bisulfite pyrosequencing. RNA analysis was accomplished using quantitative reverse transcriptase PCR (qRT-PCR). Our results in whole retina demonstrate an inverse correlation between DNA methylation near the transcriptional start site and the expression of the photoreceptor-specific genes, Rbp3 and Pde6c. We are currently analyzing DNA extracts from our cell-specific enriched laser capture microdissection (LCM) cell fractions to determine the identity of neurons with methylated versus demethylated genes. Future directions will focus on expansion of DNA and RNA analysis to other retina-specific genes and neurons from retinal tissue subpopulations, as well as characterizing DNA methyltransferase enzymes within the retina. Collectively, these data will help us better understand the differentiation process of neurons in the vertebrate retina. This information may be useful for developing novel early detection and therapeutic strategies for human diseases and disorders associated with retinal degeneration.
Publication DateFall October 25, 2014
Citation Information*Grunwald ER, *Dunham NR, Brown SL, Espina V. Liotta LA, Enke RA. Characterizing epigenetic gene regulation in the developing chicken retina. 2014 University of Maryland Baltimore County Undergraduate Research Symposium in the Chemical and Biological Sciences, 10/25/14 (poster)