The zebrafish genetics laboratory of Stephen C. Ekker, Ph.D., is focused on one major next step in the post-genomics era: the assignment of genes and gene sets critical in vertebrate patterning and organogenesis.
Dr. Ekker's lab has developed two approaches for the identification of new genes and genetic networks: vertebrate transposons and morpholino antisense oligonucleotides for molecular genetic manipulation of the model vertebrate, the zebrafish. These two reagents, morpholinos and mutagenic transposons, are powerful tools for use in true functional genomics applications in the zebrafish.
- Morpholino screening. Dr. Ekker's research team is undertaking a morpholino-based screen of the major subset of the genome encoded by co-translationally translocated proteins.
- Vertebrate transposons. Researchers in Dr. Ekker's lab have also developed gene-breaking transposons as insertional mutagens, a tool that opens the door to an array of important questions such as the genetic basis of nicotine sensitization, a critical process that underlies nicotine addiction.
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Significance to patient care
The overall aim of Dr. Ekker's research is to identify novel key genetic players critical for clinically relevant processes such as blood vessel, sensory organ and kidney development.