Jason R Jessen

Vanderbilt University, Nashville, MI, United States

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Publications (25)142.29 Total impact

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    ABSTRACT: Zebrafish gastrulation cell movements occur in the context of dynamic changes in extracellular matrix (ECM) organization and require the concerted action of planar cell polarity (PCP) proteins that regulate cell elongation and mediolateral alignment. Data obtained using Xenopus laevis gastrulae have shown that integrin-fibronectin interactions underlie the formation of polarized cell protrusions necessary for PCP and have implicated PCP proteins themselves as regulators of ECM. By contrast, the relationship between establishment of PCP and ECM assembly/remodeling during zebrafish gastrulation is unclear. We previously showed that zebrafish embryos carrying a null mutation in the four-pass transmembrane PCP protein vang-like 2 (vangl2) exhibit increased matrix metalloproteinase activity and decreased immunolabeling of fibronectin. These data implicated for the first time a core PCP protein in the regulation of pericellular proteolysis of ECM substrates and raised the question of whether other zebrafish PCP proteins also impact ECM organization. In Drosophila melanogaster, the cytoplasmic PCP protein Prickle binds Van Gogh and regulates its function. Here we report that similar to vangl2, loss of zebrafish prickle1a decreases fibronectin protein levels in gastrula embryos. We further show that Prickle1a physically binds Vangl2 and regulates both the subcellular distribution and total protein level of Vangl2. These data suggest that the ability of Prickle1a to impact fibronectin organization is at least partly due to effects on Vangl2. In contrast to loss of either Vangl2 or Prickle1a function, we find that glypican4 (a Wnt co-receptor) and frizzled7 mutant gastrula embryos with disrupted non-canonical Wnt signaling exhibit the opposite phenotype, namely increased fibronectin assembly. Our data show that glypican4 mutants do not have decreased proteolysis of ECM substrates, but instead have increased cell surface cadherin protein expression and increased intercellular adhesion. These data indicate that Wnt/Glypican4/Frizzled signaling regulates ECM assembly through effects on cadherin-mediated cell cohesion. Together, our results demonstrate that zebrafish Vangl2/Prickle1a and non-canonical Wnt/Frizzled signaling have opposing effects on ECM organization underlying PCP and gastrulation cell movements.
    Developmental Biology 09/2013; · 3.64 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Matrix metalloproteinases (MMPs) are zinc-endopeptidases that play roles in numerous pathophysiological processes and therefore are promising drug targets. However, the large size of this family and a lack of highly selective compounds that can be used for imaging or inhibition of specific MMPs members has limited efforts to better define their biological function. Here we describe a protein engineering strategy coupled with small molecule probe design to selectively target individual members of the MMP family. Specifically, we introduce a cysteine residue near the active site of a selected protease that does not alter its overall activity or function but allows direct covalent modifi-cation by a small molecule probe containing a reactive electrophile. This specific engineered interaction between the probe and the target protease provides a means to both image and inhibit the modified protease with absolute specificity. Here we demonstrate the feasibility of the approach for two distinct MMP proteases, MMP-12 and MT1-MMP (MMP-14).
    Journal of the American Chemical Society 05/2013; · 11.44 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Understanding how planar cell polarity (PCP) is established, maintained, and coordinated in migrating cell populations is an important area of research with implications for both embryonic morphogenesis and tumor cell invasion. We recently reported that the PCP protein Vang-like 2 (VANGL2) regulates the endocytosis and cell surface level of membrane type-1 matrix metalloproteinase (MMP14 or MT1-MMP). Here, we further discuss these findings in terms of extracellular matrix (ECM) remodeling, cell migration, and zebrafish gastrulation. We also demonstrate that VANGL2 function impacts the focal degradation of ECM by human cancer cells including the formation or stability of invadopodia. Together, our findings implicate MMP14 as a downstream effector of VANGL2 signaling and suggest a model whereby the regulation of pericellular proteolysis is a fundamental aspect of PCP in migrating cells.
    Communicative & integrative biology 07/2012; 5(4):325-8.
  • Rachel E Quick, Julie A Dunlap, Jason R Jessen
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    ABSTRACT: Membrane tethered matrix metalloproteinases (MMPs) cleave a variety of extracellular matrix (ECM) and non-ECM targets and play important roles during embryonic development and tumor progression. Membrane tethered MMPs in particular are important regulators of both tissue invasion and morphogenesis. Much attention has been given to understanding the function of human and mouse MMP14 (also called membrane type-1 MMP, MT1-MMP) and our own data have linked zebrafish Mmp14 to the regulation of gastrulation cell movements. However, less is known regarding the expression and function of other membrane tethered MMPs. We report the cloning and gene expression analysis of zebrafish mmp15a and mmp15b (MT2-MMP) during early embryonic and larval development. Our data show that mmp15a exhibits limited expression prior to segmentation stages and is first detected in the tectum and posterior tailbud. At 24hours post-fertilization (hpf) mmp15a localizes to the caudal hematopoietic tissue, pectoral fin buds, and mandibular arch. By contrast, mmp15b is strongly expressed during gastrula stages before becoming restricted to the polster and anterior neural plate. From 24 to 48hpf, mmp15b expression is detected in the pharyngeal arches, fin buds, otic vesicle, pronephric ducts, proctodeum, tail epidermis, posterior lateral line primordia, and caudal notochord. During the larval period beginning at 72hpf, mmp15b expression becomes restricted to the brain ventricular zone, pharyngeal arches, pectoral fins, and the proctodeum. Many of the mmp15-expressing tissues have been shown to express genes encoding components of the ECM including collagens, fibronectin, and laminins. Our data thus provide a foundation for uncovering the role of Mmp15-dependent pericellular proteolysis during zebrafish embryonic development.
    Gene Expression Patterns 06/2012; 12(7-8):254-60. · 1.36 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Planar cell polarity (PCP) describes the polarized orientation of cells within the plane of a tissue. Unlike epithelial PCP, the mechanisms underlying PCP signaling in migrating cells remain undefined. Here, the establishment of PCP must be coordinated with dynamic changes in cell adhesion and extracellular matrix (ECM) organization. During gastrulation, the membrane type-1 matrix metalloproteinase (MT1-MMP or MMP14) is required for PCP and convergence and extension cell movements. We report that the PCP protein Vang-like 2 (VANGL2) regulates the endocytosis and cell-surface availability of MMP14 in manner that is dependent on focal adhesion kinase. We demonstrate that zebrafish trilobite/vangl2 mutant embryos exhibit increased Mmp14 activity and decreased ECM. Furthermore, in vivo knockdown of Mmp14 partially rescues the Vangl2 loss-of-function convergence and extension phenotype. This study identifies a mechanism linking VANGL2 with MMP14 trafficking and suggests that establishment of PCP in migrating gastrula cells requires regulated proteolytic degradation or remodeling of the ECM. Our findings implicate matrix metalloproteinases as downstream effectors of PCP and suggest a broadly applicable mechanism whereby VANGL2 affects diverse morphogenetic processes.
    Journal of Cell Science 02/2012; 125(Pt 9):2141-7. · 5.33 Impact Factor
  • Jason R Jessen
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    ABSTRACT: Planar cell polarity was first described in invertebrates over 20 years ago and is defined as the polarity of cells (and cell structures) within the plane of a tissue, such as an epithelium. Studies in the last 10 years have identified critical roles for vertebrate homologs of these planar cell polarity proteins during gastrulation cell movements. In zebrafish, the terms convergence and extension are used to describe the collection of morphogenetic movements and cell behaviors that contribute to narrowing and elongation of the embryonic body plan. Disruption of planar cell polarity gene function causes profound defects in convergence and extension creating an embryo that has a shortened anterior-posterior axis and is broadened mediolaterally. The zebrafish gastrula-stage embryo is transparent and amenable to live imaging using both Nomarski/differential interference contrast and fluorescence microscopy. This chapter describes methods to analyze convergence and extension movements at the cellular level and thereby connect embryonic phenotypes with underlying planar cell polarity defects in migrating cells.
    Methods in molecular biology (Clifton, N.J.) 01/2012; 839:69-78. · 1.29 Impact Factor
  • Andrew Latimer, Jason R. Jessen
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    ABSTRACT: Zebrafish gastrulation entails morphogenetic cell movements that shape the body plan and give rise to an embryo with defined anterior–posterior and dorsal–ventral axes. Regulating these cell movements are diverse signaling pathways and proteins including Wnts, Src-family tyrosine kinases, cadherins, and matrix metalloproteinases. While our knowledge of how these proteins impact cell polarity and migration has advanced considerably in the last decade, almost no data exist regarding the organization of extracellular matrix (ECM) during zebrafish gastrulation. Here, we describe for the first time the assembly of a fibronectin (FN) and laminin containing ECM in the early zebrafish embryo. This matrix was first detected at early gastrulation (65% epiboly) in the form of punctae that localize to tissue boundaries separating germ layers from each other and the underlying yolk cell. Fibrillogenesis increased after mid-gastrulation (80% epiboly) coinciding with the period of planar cell polarity pathway-dependent convergence and extension cell movements. We demonstrate that FN fibrils present beneath deep mesodermal cells are aligned in the direction of membrane protrusion formation. Utilizing antisense morpholino oligonucleotides, we further show that knockdown of FN expression causes a convergence and extension defect. Taken together, our data show that similar to amphibian embryos, the formation of ECM in the zebrafish gastrula is a dynamic process that occurs in parallel to at least a portion of the polarized cell behaviors shaping the embryonic body plan. These results provide a framework for uncovering the interrelationship between ECM structure and cellular processes regulating convergence and extension such as directed migration and mediolateral/radial intercalation.
    Matrix biology: journal of the International Society for Matrix Biology 01/2010; · 3.56 Impact Factor
  • V Ashley Cantrell, Jason R Jessen
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    ABSTRACT: Van Gogh-Like 2 (VANGL2) is a planar cell polarity protein essential for collective migration during embryonic development, yet its contribution to tumor cell motility and invasion are unknown. We report for the first time that loss of VANGL2 in human cancer cells promotes efficient collective and directed migration and matrix metalloproteinase (MMP)-dependent ECM invasion. We show that VANGL2 knockdown cells exhibit increased activation of secreted MMP2, higher levels of membrane-localized MMP14, and decreased cell-surface fibronectin. These important findings support the notion that planar cell polarity proteins act in coordination with known regulators of cancer cell migration to influence invasion and perhaps metastasis.
    Cancer letters 08/2009; 287(1):54-61. · 5.02 Impact Factor
  • Jason R Jessen
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    ABSTRACT: For almost 15 years, the concept that noncanonical (beta-catenin-independent) Wnt signaling pathways play key roles in embryonic development has grown steadily in the scientific literature. Significant progress has been made toward understanding how these pathways regulate morphogenetic processes as diverse as gastrulation cell movements and the formation of cilia. More recently, however, data have implicated components of noncanonical Wnt/Ca(2+) and Wnt/planar cell polarity signaling in directly promoting the invasiveness and malignant progression of diverse forms of human cancer. Here I review this emerging field of cancer research using data from developmental model systems to provide a framework for addressing future questions.
    Zebrafish 04/2009; 6(1):21-8. · 2.88 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Phospholipase D (PLD) hydrolyzes phosphatidylcholine to generate phosphatidic acid and choline. Studies in cultured cells and Drosophila melanogaster have implicated PLD in the regulation of many cellular functions, including intracellular vesicle trafficking, cell proliferation and differentiation. However, the function of PLD in vertebrate development has not been explored. Here we report cloning and characterization of a zebrafish PLD1 (pld1) homolog. Like mammalian PLDs, zebrafish Pld1 contains two conservative HKD motifs. Maternally contributed pld1 transcripts are uniformly distributed in early embryo. Localized expression of pld1 is observed in the notochord during early segmentation, in the somites during later segmentation and in the liver at the larval stages. Studies in intact and cell-free preparations demonstrate evolutionary conservation of regulation. Inhibition of Pld1 expression using antisense morpholino oligonucleotides (MO) interfering with the translation or splicing of pld1 impaired intersegmental vessel (ISV) development. Incubating embryos with 1-butanol, which diverts production of phosphatidic acid to a phosphatidylalcohol, caused similar ISV defects. To determine where Pld1 is required for ISV development we performed transplantation experiments. Analyses of the mosaic Pld1 deficient embryos showed partial suppression of ISV defects in the segments containing transplanted wild-type notochord cells but not in the ones containing wild-type somitic cells. These results provide the first evidence that function of Pld1 in the developing notochord is essential for vascular development in vertebrates.
    Developmental Biology 03/2009; 328(2):363-76. · 3.64 Impact Factor
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    Andrew J Latimer, Jason R Jessen
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    ABSTRACT: Hepatocyte growth factor (HGF) and its receptor tyrosine kinase Met are linked to several processes underlying vertebrate development and cancer progression. Here, we characterized the expression of zebrafish c-met, hgf1, and hgf2 from cleavage stages through organogenesis and initiated an analysis of Met signaling. We identified c-met as a marker of endoderm and demonstrated that its expression can be activated downstream of Nodal. Injection of c-met mRNA drives expression of the endodermal gene sox17. During gastrulation, hgf1 transcripts are visible in mesendodermal cells along the midline. Later, c-met is expressed in kidney, islet2-positive neurons, and liver. We show that hgf1 is transcribed during gastrulation while hgf1 and hgf2 are detectable in pharyngeal arches and swim bladder. Similar to mouse, knockdown of zebrafish Met reduces liver size. Our results suggest a role for Met during endoderm specification and indicate that mechanisms of liver development are conserved between mammals and bony fish.
    Developmental Dynamics 01/2009; 237(12):3904-15. · 2.67 Impact Factor
  • Rebecca C Coyle, Andrew Latimer, Jason R Jessen
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    ABSTRACT: Key to invasiveness is the ability of tumor cells to modify the extracellular matrix, become motile, and engage in directed migration towards the vasculature. One significant protein associated with metastatic progression is membrane-type 1 matrix metalloproteinase (MT1-MMP/MMP14). How MMP14 activity is coordinated with other signaling pathways to regulate cell migration in vivo is largely unknown. Here we have used zebrafish embryogenesis as a model to understand the potential relationship between MMP14-dependent pericellular proteolysis, cell polarity, and motility. Knockdown of zebrafish Mmp14 function disrupted gastrulation convergence and extension cell movements and craniofacial morphogenesis. Using time-lapse imaging and morphometric analyses, we show that Mmp14 is required for proper cell polarity underlying the directed migration of mesodermal cells during gastrulation. We have identified a genetic interaction between mmp14 and non-canonical Wnt signaling, a pathway that also regulates cell polarity in embryonic tissues and is increasingly being linked with tumor cell migration. Finally, we demonstrate that Van Gogh-like 2, a key regulator of the non-canonical Wnt pathway, co-localizes with MMP14 and becomes redistributed towards the leading edge of polarized human cancer cells. Together, our results support the notion that pathways regulating pericellular proteolysis and cell polarity converge to promote efficient cell migration.
    Experimental Cell Research 07/2008; 314(10):2150-62. · 3.37 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Human ARHGEF11, a PDZ-domain-containing Rho guanine nucleotide exchange factor (RhoGEF), has been studied primarily in tissue culture, where it exhibits transforming ability, associates with and modulates the actin cytoskeleton, regulates neurite outgrowth, and mediates activation of Rho in response to stimulation by activated Galpha12/13 or Plexin B1. The fruit fly homolog, RhoGEF2, interacts with heterotrimeric G protein subunits to activate Rho, associates with microtubules, and is required during gastrulation for cell shape changes that mediate epithelial folding. Here, we report functional characterization of a zebrafish homolog of ARHGEF11 that is expressed ubiquitously at blastula and gastrula stages and is enriched in neural tissues and the pronephros during later embryogenesis. Similar to its human homolog, zebrafish Arhgef11 stimulated actin stress fiber formation in cultured cells, whereas overexpression in the embryo of either the zebrafish or human protein impaired gastrulation movements. Loss-of-function experiments utilizing a chromosomal deletion that encompasses the arhgef11 locus, and antisense morpholino oligonucleotides designed to block either translation or splicing, produced embryos with ventrally-curved axes and a number of other phenotypes associated with ciliated epithelia. Arhgef11-deficient embryos often exhibited altered expression of laterality markers, enlarged brain ventricles, kidney cysts, and an excess number of otoliths in the otic vesicles. Although cilia formed and were motile in these embryos, polarized distribution of F-actin and Na(+)/K(+)-ATPase in the pronephric ducts was disturbed. Our studies in zebrafish embryos have identified new, essential roles for this RhoGEF in ciliated epithelia during vertebrate development.
    Development 04/2007; 134(5):921-31. · 6.27 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: We have identified 645,088 candidate polymorphisms in zebrafish and observe a single nucleotide polymorphism (SNP) validation rate of 71% to 86%, improving with polymorphism confidence score. Variant sites are non-random, with an excess of specific novel T- and A-rich motifs. We positioned half of the polymorphisms on zebrafish genetic and physical maps as a resource for positional cloning. We further demonstrate bulked segregant analysis using the anchored SNPs as a method for high-throughput genetic mapping in zebrafish.
    Genome biology 01/2007; 8(4):R55. · 10.47 Impact Factor
  • Jason R Jessen, Lila Solnica-Krezel
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    ABSTRACT: In this issue of Cell, the Heasman group implicates Wnt11 as a component of the canonical Wnt signaling pathway that specifies Xenopus laevis axis formation (Tao et al., 2005). This important work not only identifies a long-sought-after dorsalizing factor but also highlights the pivotal role of extracellular cofactors in specifying the activation of either canonical or noncanonical Wnt pathways.
    Cell 04/2005; 120(6):736-7. · 33.12 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Gata2 is an essential hematopoietic transcriptional factor that is also expressed prominently in the nervous system. The early lethality of knockout mice due to severe anemia has largely precluded studies of gata2 neural regulation and function. In this report, we describe the identification of zebrafish Pur alpha and Sp8 orthologs as two factors that function to regulate neuronal expression of gata2. During embryogenesis, Pur alpha is expressed widely, whereas Sp8 has an overlapping pattern of expression with gata2 in the nervous system. Knockdown and ectopic expressions of Pur alpha and Sp8 indicate that these factors function, respectively, as a repressor and an activator of gata2 gene expression in the nervous system. With consideration given to the previously established roles for these factors, we propose a model for how the transcriptional regulation of neural gata2 expression may be involved in controlling cellular proliferation in the nervous system.
    Developmental Biology 12/2004; 275(1):225-34. · 3.64 Impact Factor
  • Jason R Jessen, Lilianna Solnica-Krezel
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    ABSTRACT: Cell movement plays a central role in both normal embryogenesis and the development of diseases such as cancer. Therefore, identification and analysis of proteins controlling cell movement is of special importance. The zebrafish trilobite locus encodes a Van Gogh/Strabismus homologue, which regulates diverse cell migratory behaviors during embryogenesis. Trilobite is most similar to human Van Gogh-like 2 (VANGL2)/Strabismus 1 and mouse Loop-tail associated protein/Lpp1. Both human and mouse genomes encode a second Strabismus homologue referred to as VANGL1/Strabismus 2 and Lpp2, respectively. This prompted us to ask whether another van gogh/strabismus gene, one more closely related to human VANGL1, exists in the zebrafish genome. This paper describes the identification of zebrafish vangl1 and provides the first spatiotemporal expression and functional analysis of a vertebrate vangl1 homologue. Our data indicate that vangl1 and trilobite/vangl2 are expressed in largely non-overlapping domains during embryogenesis. Injection of synthetic vangl1 RNA partially suppressed the gastrulation defect in trilobite mutant embryos, suggesting that Vangl1 and Trilobite/Vangl2 have similar biochemical activities.
    Gene Expression Patterns 06/2004; 4(3):339-44. · 1.36 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Hemoglobin switching is a complex process by which distinct globin chains are produced during stages of development. In an effort to characterize the process of hemoglobin switching in the zebrafish model system, we have isolated and characterized several embryonic globin genes. The embryonic and adult globin genes are found in clusters in a head-to-head configuration. One cluster of embryonic and adult genes is localized to linkage group 3, whereas another embryonic cluster is localized on linkage group 12. Several embryonic globin genes demonstrate an erythroid-specific pattern of expression early during embryogenesis and later are downregulated as definitive hematopoiesis occurs. We utilized electrospray mass spectroscopy to correlate globin genes and protein expression in developing embryonic red cells. The mutation, zinfandel, has a hypochromic microcytic anemia as an embryo, but later recovers in adulthood. The zinfandel gene maps to linkage group 3 near the major globin gene locus, strongly suggesting that zinfandel represents an embryonic globin defect. Our studies are the first to systematically evaluate the embryonic globins in the zebrafish and will ultimately be useful in evaluating zebrafish mutants with defects in hemoglobin production and switching.
    Developmental Biology 04/2003; 255(1):48-61. · 3.64 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Embryonic morphogenesis is driven by a suite of cell behaviours, including coordinated shape changes, cellular rearrangements and individual cell migrations, whose molecular determinants are largely unknown. In the zebrafish, Dani rerio, trilobite mutant embryos have defects in gastrulation movements and posterior migration of hindbrain neurons. Here, we have used positional cloning to demonstrate that trilobite mutations disrupt the transmembrane protein Strabismus (Stbm)/Van Gogh (Vang), previously associated with planar cell polarity (PCP) in Drosophila melanogaster, and PCP and canonical Wnt/beta-catenin signalling in vertebrates. Our genetic and molecular analyses argue that during gastrulation, trilobite interacts with the PCP pathway without affecting canonical Wnt signalling. Furthermore, trilobite may regulate neuronal migration independently of PCP molecules. We show that trilobite mediates polarization of distinct movement behaviours. During gastrulation convergence and extension movements, trilobite regulates mediolateral cell polarity underlying effective intercalation and directed dorsal migration at increasing velocities. In the hindbrain, trilobite controls effective migration of branchiomotor neurons towards posterior rhombomeres. Mosaic analyses show trilobite functions cell-autonomously and non-autonomously in gastrulae and the hindbrain. We propose Trilobite/Stbm mediates cellular interactions that confer directionality on distinct movements during vertebrate embryogenesis.
    Nature Cell Biology 09/2002; 4(8):610-5. · 20.06 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Each olfactory sensory neuron (OSN) expresses a single odorant receptor (OR) from a large repertoire of clustered OR genes. It has been hypothesized that OR gene regulation may involve stochastic DNA rearrangement, which in lymphocytes requires the recombination activating genes, rag1 and rag2. We have recently demonstrated that rag1 is expressed in zebrafish OSNs. Here we report that rag2, the obligate partner for rag1 function, is also expressed in OSNs and that its expression pattern mimics that of rag1. The onset of rag1 and rag2 expression preceded that of known zebrafish ORs and the number of rag1-positive OSNs corresponded with the number expressing the olfactory cyclic nucleotide-gated cation channel, an OSN marker. Zebrafish OSNs are the first example of concurrent rag expression in a nonlymphoid tissue. The expression of rag1 and rag2 in OSNs adds to the list of similarities between the olfactory and immune systems that includes monoallelic and mutually exclusive gene expression.
    genesis 05/2001; 29(4):156-62. · 2.04 Impact Factor

Publication Stats

952 Citations
142.29 Total Impact Points


  • 2002–2013
    • Vanderbilt University
      • • Division of Genetic Medecine
      • • Department of Medicine
      • • Department of Cancer Biology
      • • Department of Biological Sciences
      Nashville, MI, United States
  • 2004
    • University of California, Los Angeles
      • Department of Molecular, Cell, and Developmental Biology (MCDB)
      Los Angeles, CA, United States
  • 1997–2003
    • Georgia Health Sciences University
      • Institute of Molecular Medicine and Genetics
      Augusta, Georgia, United States