The title of my project is “Fat1 Protein and Hair Cell Regeneration”. The purpose of my research is to look at the role Fat1B has on regenerating hair cells. Often times hearing loss is due to the loss of sensory hair cells in our ear. These hair cells convert sound waves into messages. In humans, hair cells don’t regenerate after they die, however in zebrafish, hair cells are found in the lateral line, a sensory system that detects water movements, but do regenerate after being damaged or destroyed.
My project essentially is to understand how the hair cells in zebrafish regrow. Working under Dr. Steiner, I know I will learn a lot about the process of regenerating hair cells in zebrafish and how we might be able to use this process on humans when fully understood. I have already learned many techniques and protocols in the lab, and I know that everyday I will continue to grow as a researcher and gain more knowledge in the fields of molecular biology and bioinformatics.
I’m looking to see if a gene called Fat1B controls cell proliferation and regeneration of the sensory cells in the lateral line of these fish. To look at the role of Fat1B, I have to knockdown the gene’s expression. I do this by injecting morpholino oligonucleotide, which bind to certain spots in their pre-mRNA preventing normal splicing and making normal proteins, into zebrafish embryos. My project looks at different concentrations of morpholino used to see each effect on hair cell regeneration. Afterwards, I will extract RNA from both the injected and uninjected embryos and use a method called PCR to see if the morpholino I injected is correctly working. Aside from the bigger methods I just described, I have also learned many small yet important techniques such as calibrating injecting needles and using both the florescent and confocal microscope. Every technique learned, whether big or small, are important because they can potentially contribute to future therapies for hearing loss.