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Cynthia Cooper's Lab Zebrafish Pigment Cell Biology

Research

Our laboratory is interested in how black pigment cells, or melanocytes, develop and function. We utilize several approaches to better understand the biology of these specialized cells:

  1. Genetic/molecular biology approaches – we are characterizing several pigment mutants in an effort to find new genes critical for normal melanophore development and function.
  2. Embryological approaches – we use CRISPR and other injection techniques to understand the role of specific genes or tissues in embryonic pigmentation.
  3. Cell biological approaches – we conduct western blot and cell death assays to understand the function of pigment genes of interest at the protein level.
  4. Pharmocological approaches/drug screens – we examine the effects of pigment synthesis and signaling protein modulators to characterize the interacting pathways that work with our proteins of interest during melanocyte and silver pigment cell (iridophore) development.
  5. RNA seq analysis – we use RNA seq to better understand the impact of our pigment impacting mutations on global gene expression and cell pathway activation.