Karen Adams

Degree Type

Honors Capstone Project

Date of Submission

Spring 5-1-2010

Capstone Advisor

Dr. Craig Albertson

Honors Reader

Dr. Eleanor Maine

Capstone Major


Capstone College

Arts and Science

Audio/Visual Component


Capstone Prize Winner


Won Capstone Funding


Honors Categories

Sciences and Engineering

Subject Categories

Biology | Genetics | Genetics and Genomics


Laterality, the preference for development on one side of the body, is essential to the vertebrate body plan. While the vertebrate skeleton usually develops symmetrically, the processes underlying craniofacial laterality are not well understood. Using zebrafish and cichlids as model organisms, this study focuses on the molecular basis of symmetric craniofacial development. Fgf8, Retinoic Acid, and wnt11 were examined to analyze their involvement in regulating craniofacial laterality. Fgf8 is known to play a role in proper jaw development. Because fgf8 and Retinoic Acid interact to achieve laterality of the somites during somitogenesis, the role of Retinoic Acid in regulating craniofacial laterality was also investigated. Wnt11 was analyzed because it was recently mapped to a chromosomal region in cichlids that is associated with the regulation of asymmetric jaw development. Wnt signaling is also known to be involved in regulating asymmetries in the developing heart field. By comparing the jaws of wild type and Retinoic Acid deficient zebrafish, we show that Retinoic Acid function promotes symmetric craniofacial development. Using whole-mount in situ hybridization (WISH), we provide evidence that Fgf8 and Retinoic Acid interact to achieve laterality of the pharyngeal cartilages. Additionally, WISH was used to show the asymmetric expression of wnt11 in developing wild type cichlids. By treating cichlid embryos with LiCl, we show that the over expression of Wnt signaling can induce craniofacial asymmetries. We provide potential models to explain the roles of fgf8, Retinoic Acid, and wnt11 in regulating craniofacial laterality.

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.



To view the content in your browser, please download Adobe Reader or, alternately,
you may Download the file to your hard drive.

NOTE: The latest versions of Adobe Reader do not support viewing PDF files within Firefox on Mac OS and if you are using a modern (Intel) Mac, there is no official plugin for viewing PDF files within the browser window.