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McGlade Lab

Retinal morphogenesis

The role of the mammalian Crumbs complex in retinal morphogenesis

The establishment and maintenance of cell polarity is critical for the normal development of multicellular organisms. In both Drosophila and mammals, the polarized architecture of epithelial cells requires the concerted action of various conserved membrane-associated multi-protein complexes, one of which is the Crumbs complex.

In Drosophila, Crumbs is an apical determinant of epithelial cells which has a well-established function in the regulation of cell polarity and photoreceptor cell morphogenesis. CRB1 encodes a homologue of Drosophila Crumbs however the function of the mammalian CRB1 and the CRB1 associated protein complex remains ill defined. Interestingly, mutations in the human CRB1 gene have been linked to several retinal dystrophies including Retinitis Pigmentosa and Leber Congenital Amaurosis, one of the leading causes of blindness in children.

The goal of this research project is to define the roles of CRB1 and the associated protein complexes in regulating normal retinal organization and photoreceptor cell morphogenesis and survival.