Seth Blackshaw (John Hopkins)
Systems Biology of Retinal Cell Specification
The mammalian central nervous system is made up of hundreds of distinct cell types. However, the molecular mechanisms that specify this amazingly diverse population is poorly understood. We use the mammalian retina as a model system to investigate this question, as it contains only seven major cell types, each of which differentiates during a discrete temporal window. I will discuss how we use comprehensive gene expression profiling, in combination with in vivo electroporation, as a means of identifying an E3 SUMO ligase that controls photoreceptor identity. Furthermore, I will describe how we have developed and used human proteome microarrays as tools for global identification of SUMO-modified and SUMO binding proteins, and as a means of isolating ultraspecific monoclonal antibodies to key human developmental regulatory factors.