Developmental Neurobiology

Xian-Jie Yang, PhD, Director

Contact Information
Phone: (310) 825-7020
Fax: (310) 794-2144
Email: [email protected]

Location Address
UCLA Stein Eye Institute
100 Stein Plaza, Room BH-118
Los Angeles, CA 90095

Research Areas

Development of the Vertebrate Eye and Retina

Description
Dr. Yang is interested in the molecular and cellular mechanisms underlying development of the vertebrate eye. Her research efforts are directed toward understanding how the eye primordium (the beginnings of vision cells) is specified and how retinal progenitor (precursor) cells make cell fate choices during formation of the retina. To achieve these goals her laboratory uses a variety of molecular and biochemical approaches that include cloning genes involved in eye development, characterizing gene expression patterns, culturing retinal cells and analyzing protein activation during cell-to-cell communication. In addition, Dr. Yang utilizes retroviral vectors (special laboratory-based viruses) to introduce wild-type and mutant genes into the developing retina and brain in order to assess the functions of these genes. Her current studies will contribute to our knowledge of human eye and retina development and provide a biological basis for therapeutic usage of protein growth factors for certain retinal degenerative diseases.

Representative Publications

Yang XJ, Cepko CL. Flk-1, a receptor for vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF), is expressed by retinal progenitor cells. J Neurosci 1996;16:6089-99.

Ezzeddine D, Yang XJ, DeChiara T, Yancopoulos G, Cepko C L. Postmitotic cells fated to become rod photoreceptors can be respecified by CNTF treatment of the retina. Development 1997;124:1055-67.

Zhang XM, Lin E, Yang XJ. Sonic hedgehog mediated ventralization disrupts formation of the midbrain-hindbrain junction in the chick embryo. Dev Neurosci 2000;22:207-16.

Zhang XM, Yang XJ. Temporal and spatial effects of Sonic hedgehog signaling in chick eye morphogenesis. Dev Biol 2001;233:271-90.

Zhang XM, Yang XJ. Regulation of retinal ganglion cell production by Sonic hedgehog. Development 2000;128:943-57.

Grants

National Eye Institute: Cytokine Signal Transduction in Retinal Development, 5/1/00-4/30/04