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Neurogenesis, the complex formation of functional neurons from progenitor cells, requires a variety of molecules and proteins, many of which are still unknown. The Slitrk family of transmembrane proteins, involved in various neurodevelopmental processes, display expression patterns that are consistent with a role in neurogenesis. This study set out to expand on the current knowledge of Slitrk proteins and further explore their suggested role in neurogenesis by studying one member of the protein family, Slitrk2. Immunostaining for Slitrk2 and Pax6 in embryonic mice revealed localization of Slitrk2 to neural progenitor cells in the ventricular zone. To further expand on this finding, a loss-of-function study was performed in zebrafish, with a focus on the developing retina. Slitrk2 was knocked down by microinjecting a morpholino into zebrafish eggs (Slitrk-KD). Morphological analyses were conducted to analyze eye size, and immunostaining was performed to track presence and location of pH3+ mitotic cells and retinal lamination. The data indicated smaller eye sizes, increased expression of mitotic cells, and altered retinal lamination in Slitrk2-KD fish. However, Slitrk2 protein could not be detected on a Western blot, and therefore successful Slitrk2 knockdown by the morpholino could not be confirmed. Ultimately, the data should be interpreted with caution until proper morpholino controls are implemented. Overall, the results from this study suggest a novel role for Slitrk proteins in nervous system development, and can shed light on the molecular mechanisms of neurogenesis.
Karliner, Jordyn S., "Exploring the Role of Slitrk2 in Embryonic Neurogenesis" (2018). Biology Honors Papers. 20.