Defense Date


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Science


Human Genetics

First Advisor

Dr. James Lister


Zebrafish (Danio rerio) show a unique pigmentation pattern comprised of three pigment cell types: melanophores, iridophores and xanthophores. Other pigmented cells include the retinal pigmented epithelium (rpe) which absorbs excess light in the eye and maintain the extracellular environment around the photoreceptors. While previous mutations in mitfa showed a role in regulating trunk melanophores, the rpe was not affected. TALENs and CRISPR-Cas9 systems were used to generate mutant zebrafish for tfec, a transcription factor expressed in both neural crest and rpe. Embryos with tfec mutations showed a loss of iridophore pigmentation, and delays in the pigmentation of xanthophores and rpe, showing positive regulation of multiple pigment cells. Double mutants for tfec and mitfa displayed greater losses of iridophore, xanthophore and rpe pigmentation with noncircular globes, suggesting cooperative roles for these transcription factors.


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