I was delighted to travel to Faro last week as part of the committee at Brigite's PhD viva. Brigite did very well and is now a thoroughly deserved 'Doctor', having manged to submit and correct a very substantial thesis despite having a child, moving country and taking up a post working on the ZCre project. Congratulations, Brigite!
It was wonderful to meet old friends - our long-term collaborators from the Algarve, Leonor Cancela and Natercia Conceicao (left and right of Brigite), and from Lisbon, Antonio Jacinto (very colourful robe on the right) - and new - thanks to Jose Conde Belo, Rui Canceicao Martinho, Alexandra Carmo (left, in order) and Antonio Jacinto for doing a thorough job of 'vivaing' Brigite.
It's always interesting seeing how PhD vivas are done in other countries - especially when they are public like they are in Portugal. It was even more enjoyable to be there as a supervisor, and so not have the responsibility of questioning the candidate. A public viva is certainly more of an occasion, but probably even more stressful for the candidate - and for the examiners!
Very excited that Deeya Ballim will be joining the lab soon - we have just heard that her application for a Marie Sklodowska-Curie Incoming Fellowship Project 'Sox10mutants' has been successful. Well done, Deeya!
Recent paper published in Pigment Cell Melanoma Res. (Dec 2014) doi: 10.1111/pcmr.12335.
Pigment patterns in adult fish result from superimposition of two largely independent pigmentation mechanisms
Ceinos RM, Guillot R, Kelsh RN, Cerdá-Reverter JM, Rotllant J
Dorso-ventral pigment pattern differences are the most widespread pigmentary adaptations in vertebrates. In mammals, this pattern is controlled by regulating melanin chemistry in melanocytes using a protein, agouti-signalling peptide (ASIP). In fish, studies of pigment patterning have focused on stripe formation, identifying a core striping mechanism dependent upon interactions between different pigment cell types. In contrast, mechanisms driving the dorso-ventral countershading pattern have been overlooked. Here, we demonstrate that, in fact, zebrafish utilize two distinct adult pigment patterning mechanisms - an ancient dorso-ventral patterning mechanism, and a more recent striping mechanism based on cell-cell interactions; remarkably, the dorso-ventral patterning mechanism also utilizes ASIP. These two mechanisms function largely independently, with resultant patterns superimposed to give the full pattern.
A very warm welcome to Karen, a new PhD student that has recently joined the group!
A very warm welcome to Nivedita Awasthi, a PhD student from Dr Tosso Leeb's Lab (University of Bern, Switzerland), who is visiting our group for two months.
A very warm welcome to Quirino Vassalli, a PhD student from Dr Margherita Branno's Lab (Stazione Anton Dohrn, Naples, Italy), who is visiting our group for few months!
A very warm welcome to Dr. Yusuke Nagao, from the Bioscience and Biotechnology Center (Nagoya University), who has recently joined the group!
Recent paper published in Archives of Biochemistry and Biophysics (Jan 2015) doi: 10.1016/j.abb.2014.12.023.
Molecular characterization of cbfb gene and identification of new transcription variants: Implications for function
B. Simões, N. Conceição, A.C. Matias, J. Bragança, R.N. Kelsh, M.L. Cancela
The CBFβ gene encodes a transcription factor that, in combination with CBFα (also called Runx, runt-related transcription factor) regulates expression of several target genes. CBFβ interacts with all Runx family members, such as RUNX2, a master-regulator of bone-related gene transcription that contains a conserved DNA-binding domain (Runt domain). CBFβ stimulates DNA binding of the Runt domain, and is essential for most of the known functions of RUNX2.
A comparative analysis of the zebrafish cbfβ gene and protein, and of its orthologous identified homologous proteins in different species indicates a highly conserved function. We cloned eleven transcripts of the zebrafish cbfβ gene, one resulting in the known Cbfβ protein (with 187 amino-acids (aa)), and three additional variants resulting from skipping exon 5a (resulting in a protein with 174 aa) or exon 5b resulting in a protein with 201 aa), both observed for the first time in zebrafish, and a completely novel isoform containing both exon 5a and 5b (and resulting in a protein with 188 aa). Functional analysis of these isoforms provides insight into their role in regulating gene transcription. From the other seven variants two correspond to premature early termination of Cbfβ forms, while the others show in-frame exon-skipping causing changes in the Cbfβ domain that may affect its function.