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Title page for ETD etd-10142007-134536

Type of Document Dissertation
Author Flynt, Alex Sutton
Author's Email Address alex.s.flynt@vanderbilt.edu
URN etd-10142007-134536
Title Diverse Roles for miRNAs in Zebrafish
Degree PhD
Department Biological Sciences
Advisory Committee
Advisor Name Title
Carl Johnson Committee Chair
Bruce Appel Committee Member
James Patton Committee Member
Lilianna Solnica-Krezel Committee Member
Ronald Emeson Committee Member
  • microRNA
  • zebrafish
  • development
Date of Defense 2007-10-01
Availability unrestricted
In recent years it has become apparent that microRNAs (miRNAs) are common feature of eukaryotic genomes. The functional products of these non-canonical genes are small, ~22nt RNAs that negatively regulate translation. Targeting of mRNAs occurs when a miRNA base pairs with complementary sequence elements located in the 3’ untranslated region of mRNAs. Currently hundreds of miRNA species have been described. However, due to the imprecise pairing between miRNAs and their targets, the functional role of most miRNAs remains unknown. We approached this problem in zebrafish by using a combination of phenotypic analysis and reporter constructs. We determined that miR-214 targets su(fu), a regulator of hedgehog signaling, and that this is critical for appropriate muscle cell specification during somitogenesis. Additionally, we show that the miR-8 family of miRNAs targets a regulator of membrane trafficking, nherf1. This regulation is a critical component of the osmotic stress response. Together, we reveal diverse roles for miRNAs in zebrafish, and demonstrated the feasibility of using this model system to understand miRNA function.
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