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Title: Elucidating the input of notch ligand delta-like 4 (dll4) in zebrafish blood stem cell ontogeny
Author: Schneider, Janina Anne
ISNI:       0000 0004 5355 455X
Awarding Body: University of Oxford
Current Institution: University of Oxford
Date of Award: 2014
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Multipotent haematopoietic stem cells (HSCs) supply the organism with mature blood cells of all lineages throughout adult life. These cells first originate in the dorsal aorta (DA) of the vertebrate embryo, and a multitude of signalling pathways regulate their specification in the embryo. The emergence of HSCs is dependent on appropriate arterial specification and vessel maturation, processes which are heavily dependent on Notch signalling. This arterial involvement of Notch obscures its later roles in HSC specification. The Notch ligand dll4 is crucially involved in arterial development in the mammalian embryo, while zebrafish embryos deficient for dll4 activity only exhibit minor arterial defects at the time of HSC emergence. Here, the zebrafish model has been exploited to reveal the first specific evidence for a role of dll4 in HSC specification. Dll4 is required for the expression of runx1, a transcription factor (TF) required for HSC specification, prior to any observed effects on vascular development. HSCs and all their derivatives are depleted in dll4 morphants. To disentangle the genetic requlatory cascade downstream of dll4 and upstream of runx1, RNA-seq was employed to discover downstream effectors of this signalling. Expression and functional screening of best candidate genes revealed seven genes with novel roles in HSC development. Foxc1b is a dll4 target predominantly mirroring the dll4 phenotype, and is thus likely to be the downstream effector of dll4, upstream of runx1. Interestingly, foxc1b also has a later dll4-independent role in HSC development, remarkably similar to that of cmyb. Taken together I show here for the first time a requirement of dll4 upstream of runx1 in HSC specification, mediated by foxc1b, followed by a later dll4-independent phase in HSC development.
Supervisor: Patient, Roger Sponsor: Medical Research Council
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: Molecular haematology ; Stem cells (clinical sciences) ; Genetics (life sciences) ; Development (zoology) ; Clinical laboratory sciences ; Biology (medical sciences) ; Genetics (medical sciences) ; Haematology ; dll4 ; notch ; zebrafish ; artery ; haemogenic endothelium ; foxc1 ; blood