Robert K. Ho, PhD

The zebrafish, Danio rerio, is a relatively simple vertebrate whose potential as a model system for developmental studies is only recently being realized. Embryos are easy to obtain in large numbers, develop external to the mother in fresh water and are optically transparent throughout the early stages of development. These features make the zebrafish embryo easily accessible to experimental manipulations such as the microinjection of lineage tracer molecules, cell ablations and cell transplantation. In addition to being an excellent embryological preparation, the zebrafish has an extensive history of genetic analyses and many interesting mutations have already been isolated.



The ability to combine a workable genetics with an accessible embryology is perhaps the most advantageous feature of working with the zebrafish and has provided us with many novel insights into vertebrate development.



The theme of the work being performed in the laboratory is to address classical problems of vertebrate embryogenesis using modern techniques in the zebrafish embryo. The general goal is to gain insights into the cellular, molecular and genetic mechanisms leading to the assignment of cell fate and, ultimately, to the formation of a complex vertebrate body plan. We are especially interested in the processes leading to the specification of the embryonic body axes and how the movements of individual cells within the embryo influence/correlate with cell fate decisions.

The Cdx transcription factors and retinoic acid play parallel roles in antero-posterior position of the pectoral fin field during gastrulation.
Quintanilla CA, Ho RK. The Cdx transcription factors and retinoic acid play parallel roles in antero-posterior position of the pectoral fin field during gastrulation. Mech Dev. 2020 Sep 07; 103644.
PMID: 32911082

Adipose fin development and its relation to the evolutionary origins of median fins.
Stewart TA, Bonilla MM, Ho RK, Hale ME. Adipose fin development and its relation to the evolutionary origins of median fins. Sci Rep. 2019 01 24; 9(1):512.
PMID: 30679662

A transcriptomics analysis of the Tbx5 paralogues in zebrafish.
Boyle Anderson EAT, Ho RK. A transcriptomics analysis of the Tbx5 paralogues in zebrafish. PLoS One. 2018; 13(12):e0208766.
PMID: 30532148

Evolutionarily conserved Tbx5-Wnt2/2b pathway orchestrates cardiopulmonary development.
Steimle JD, Rankin SA, Slagle CE, Bekeny J, Rydeen AB, Chan SS, Kweon J, Yang XH, Ikegami K, Nadadur RD, Rowton M, Hoffmann AD, Lazarevic S, Thomas W, Boyle Anderson EAT, Horb ME, Luna-Zurita L, Ho RK, Kyba M, Jensen B, Zorn AM, Conlon FL, Moskowitz IP. Evolutionarily conserved Tbx5-Wnt2/2b pathway orchestrates cardiopulmonary development. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2018 11 06; 115(45):E10615-E10624.
PMID: 30352852

m6A-dependent maternal mRNA clearance facilitates zebrafish maternal-to-zygotic transition.
Zhao BS, Wang X, Beadell AV, Lu Z, Shi H, Kuuspalu A, Ho RK, He C. m6A-dependent maternal mRNA clearance facilitates zebrafish maternal-to-zygotic transition. Nature. 2017 02 23; 542(7642):475-478.
PMID: 28192787

CDX4 and retinoic acid interact to position the hindbrain-spinal cord transition.
Chang J, Skromne I, Ho RK. CDX4 and retinoic acid interact to position the hindbrain-spinal cord transition. Dev Biol. 2016 Feb 15; 410(2):178-189.
PMID: 26773000

Asymmetric cell convergence-driven zebrafish fin bud initiation and pre-pattern requires Tbx5a control of a mesenchymal Fgf signal.
Mao Q, Stinnett HK, Ho RK. Asymmetric cell convergence-driven zebrafish fin bud initiation and pre-pattern requires Tbx5a control of a mesenchymal Fgf signal. Development. 2015 Dec 15; 142(24):4329-39.
PMID: 26525676

Zebrafish Tbx16 regulates intermediate mesoderm cell fate by attenuating Fgf activity.
Warga RM, Mueller RL, Ho RK, Kane DA. Zebrafish Tbx16 regulates intermediate mesoderm cell fate by attenuating Fgf activity. Dev Biol. 2013 Nov 01; 383(1):75-89.
PMID: 24008197

Movement and function of the pectoral fins of the larval zebrafish (Danio rerio) during slow swimming.
Green MH, Ho RK, Hale ME. Movement and function of the pectoral fins of the larval zebrafish (Danio rerio) during slow swimming. J Exp Biol. 2011 Sep 15; 214(Pt 18):3111-23.
PMID: 21865524

Spatio-temporal regulation of Wnt and retinoic acid signaling by tbx16/spadetail during zebrafish mesoderm differentiation.
Mueller RL, Huang C, Ho RK. Spatio-temporal regulation of Wnt and retinoic acid signaling by tbx16/spadetail during zebrafish mesoderm differentiation. BMC Genomics. 2010 Sep 09; 11:492.
PMID: 20828405

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