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Mechanosensory hair cells in the inner ear are responsible for converting the physical vibrations of sound waves into electrical signals which the brain can then interpret. Damage to these cells can result in loss of hearing and balance. While hair cells in mammals lose their ability to regenerate, some non-mammalian vertebrates are able to generate fully functioning hair cells following death or damage throughout their entire life span; one such species is the zebrafish (Danio rerio) whose hair cells are stereotypically organized along the lateral line in sensory clusters called neuromasts. Understanding the molecular mechanisms underlying hair cell regeneration is necessary in order to explore potential treatments for hearing loss caused by damage to these mechanosensory cells. Past studies have found that the Fat family of proteins may play a role in both planar cell polarity (PCP) and epithelial cell division and are therefore suitable candidates for exploring potential roles in regeneration. This study aimed to replicate the immunohistochemical and MO assays done in the past for Fat2 and Fat3 cadherins, looking for effects on hair cell development and PCP. I compared hair cell counts and planar polarity in 4 conditions: control (phenol red), Fat3 with P53, Fat2 with P53, Fat3, Fat2 and P53 knock-downs. Results found significant effects of all 3 knockdown conditions on hair cells counts when compared to controls but yield no differences between knockdown groups. These results suggests that Fat2 and Fat3 are employed in the same pathway regulating hair cell development. Assays exploring PCP yielding inconclusive results.
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Alba, Philippine E., "The Role of Fat2 and Fat3 Cadeherins on Hair Cell Development and Planar Cell Polarity in the Zebrafish Lateral Line" (2018). Senior Projects Spring 2018. 14.