Defense Date


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Science



First Advisor

Robert M. Tombes, Ph.D.

Second Advisor

Sarah Rothschild, Ph.D.

Third Advisor

René Olivares-Navarrete, D.D.S., Ph.D.

Fourth Advisor

James Lister, Ph.D.


Across species, the face and more specifically the mouth, serves as an essential facet of everyday life. Amongst humans the mouth serves as a tool for the ingestion of food, a marker for facial recognition and a medium for communication. In order for the mouth to properly form, a series of precise growth and fusion events are needed. In order to insure that these events are orchestrated properly is a wide array of signals, transcription factors and epigenetic regulators. Due to the needed precision of these events, congenital birth defects of the face such as cleft lip and cleft palate are some of the most common worldwide.

In order to support existing and identify new developmental processes involved in mouth formation, we have utilized the effective model, Danio to study the molecules and events implicated in orofacial development. This was accomplished by developing a novel confocal imaging technique that allows for visualization of the forward facing zebrafish. Using this imaging technique we were able to establish when the embryonic mouth first forms in zebrafish. Additionally, we recapitulated cleft-palate phenotypes shown in previous literature with the imaging method. Utilizing this technique, we then sought to further establish the role of Ca2+ signaling in proper orofacial morphogenesis and determine if the serine/threonine protein kinase, Ca2+/calmodulin-dependent protein kinase type-II (CaMK-II), has a role in proper orofacial developmental.


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Available for download on Wednesday, May 11, 2022