Jennifer Bestman, PhD, FRAXA Postdoctoral Fellow
$40,000 in 2004
$35,000 in 2003
FMRP Function in the Xenopus Visual System
Project Summary for Dr. Cline and Dr. Bestman
by Jennifer Bestman, 6/1/2003
Dr. Jennifer Bestman started her first Fragile X study in Holly Cline’s lab with FRAXA funding in 2003. This research group is examining the normal role of FMRP using tadpoles as a model (when multiple model systems yield similar results, the perceived weight of the evidence produced is much greater). So far, they have shown that FMRP and associated proteins and translation factors are involved in the development of neurons in tadpoles. They now plan to explore the effects of pharmacologic interventions in this model system.
Dr. Bestman is expressing fluorescently-tagged fragile X protein, along with other proteins involved in mRNA regulation, in neurons in the optic tectum of the tadpoles. Since the tadpoles are transparent, she can use time-lapse 2-photon microscopy to capture changes in the structure of individual developing neurons in the living animal, over a period of minutes to days. Because the optic tectum is the area of the brain where visual information is first received and processed, she is testing how visually-induced synaptic activity to neurons and Fragile X protein-dependent protein synthesis interact to control the morphological development of these neurons.