Vera Osafo

Degree Type

Honors Capstone Project

Date of Submission

Spring 5-1-2012

Capstone Advisor

Dr. Michael Zuber

Honors Reader

Dr. John Belote

Capstone Major


Capstone College

Arts and Science

Audio/Visual Component


Capstone Prize Winner


Won Capstone Funding


Honors Categories

Sciences and Engineering

Subject Categories

Biology | Cell and Developmental Biology


In the United States alone, more than one million people are blind. One of the leading causes of blindness is the retinal disease, Retinitis Pigmentosa (RP). RP is a heterogeneous group of inherited disorders characterized by the initial loss of rod photoreceptors. Approximately 100,000 people in the United States and 1.5 million people worldwide are affected by RP. Unfortunately, there is no cure. In humans with RP, it is known that the loss of rod photoreceptors leads to degeneration of cones. Rods photoreceptors are responsible for vision under low light conditions and cone photoreceptors are required for color vision and their deaths lead to daylight vision loss and ultimately complete blindness.

Uncoupling the cellular and molecular mechanisms that link rod cell loss to cone death would allow cones to survive and for patients afflicted with Retinitis Pigmentosa to retain functional vision. I hypothesized that the protein, Rod-derived Cone Viability 1 (RdCVF1), is a trophic factor produced by rods and crucial for maintaining cone viability in the retina of our RP model, the tadpoles of the African Clawed frog, Xenopus laevis.

I used mouse RdCVF1 as a probe to find the Xenopus homolog and I performed in situ hybridization using Xenopus laevis RdCVF1 RNA probe to detect RdCVF1 expression in the Xenopus laevis retina. I report that RdCVF1 protein sequence and functional domains required for the protein function are conserved in Xenopus laevis and also RdCVF1 is expressed in the Xenopus retina. These findings present a possible therapeutic avenue for Retinitis Pigmentosa using RdCVF1.

Creative Commons License

Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 License.



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