GSBS Dissertations and Theses

Publication Date


Document Type

Doctoral Dissertation

Academic Program

Biochemistry and Molecular Pharmacology


Biochemistry and Molecular Pharmacology

First Thesis Advisor

Dr. Charles G. Sagerstrom


DNA-Binding Proteins, Repressor Proteins, Rhombencephalon, Zebrafish, Zebrafish Proteins, Zinc Fingers


Generation of the primitive neuroectoderm into specialized brain subdivisions, such as the hindbrain primordium, involves the regulated coordination of complex morphogenetic and molecular mechanisms. These processes are evident in the segregation of the zebrafish hindbrain into seven distinct lineage-restricted compartments, termed rhombomeres (r), which are established by the interplay of several spatially-restricted expressed genes. These include transcription factors, members of specific signaling pathways and specialized molecules that mediate cell adhesion and identity. Despite their extensive characterization, it is evident that other genes are involved to mediate the proper specification and segregation of individual rhombomeres. One candidate that likely fits this role is related to the no ocelli/l(2)35Ba gene in Drosophila, termed nlz (nocA-like zinc-finger). Nlz-related proteins behave as transcriptional repressors and are related to the vertebrate Sp1-like family of transcription factors. nlz is dynamically expressed in the zebrafish hindbrain, residing in the caudal hindbrain at gastrula stages and rostrally expanding from presumptive r3/r4 boundary to encompass r3 and r2 at segmentation stages. Nlz localizes to the nucleus and associates with the co-repressors Groucho and histone deacetylases, suggesting that Nlz acts as a repressor. Consistent with this, misexpression of nlz into zebrafish embryos results in a loss of gene expression in the rostral hindbrain (rl-r3). Taken together, the findings in this thesis suggest that Nlz functions as a transcriptional repressor to control segmental gene expression in the rostral hindbrain.


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