Defense Date


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy


Integrative Life Sciences

First Advisor

Dr. Gregory S. Walsh

Second Advisor

Dr. Amanda J. Dickinson

Third Advisor

Dr. Michael F. Miles

Fourth Advisor

Dr. Robert M. Tombes

Fifth Advisor

Dr. James A. Lister


The Nance-Horan syndrome gene (NHS) plays a role in lens, eye and brain development. To date, the function of NHS remains unclear. Recent evidence showed that p53 isoform, Δ113p53, inhibits abnormal cell growth during organogenesis. We show that NHS is expressed in the retinas of Danio rerio and Xenopus tropicalis during key stages of retinogenesis, and that knockdown of the gene resulted in a small eye phenotype in both species. Initially, knockdown of nhsb in zebrafish had no visible defects at 24hpf. But examination of the retina at 48hpf, we see a marked difference in size compared to control embryos. Cell proliferation is a major feature of the developing retina from 24 hpf to 48 hpf. Differentiation of neurons was delayed, while the total number of cells that makes up the volume of the retina was markedly reduced. Here we show that the small retina in nhsb knockdown embryos are due to p53-dependent cell cycle arrest with specific induction of p53 target gene, Δ113p53 and p21. Δ113p53 protects nhsb- knockdown cells from p53-mediated apoptosis. We hypothesize that nhsb overcomes a proliferation restriction in retina progenitor cells during retinogenesis, while knockdown of nhsb increases expression of Δ113p53 and p21, lengthening the cell cycle.


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