Genetic analysis of tendon development and musculoskeletal integration in the vertebrate head
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We investigated zebrafish mutants that affect craniofacial development to examine how those mutations affect the musculoskeletal patterning of the jaw. We discovered that loss of function in cyp26b1 caused musculoskeletal patterning defects related to tendon condensation. Subsequently, we decided to use reverse genetics to interrogate regulation of tendon development in the vertebrate head and body. Needing ways of evaluating tendon and myotendinous junction phenotypes, we devised a protocol for inducing muscle strain in vivo. We generated mutants for scxa and xirp2a, determined whether homozygous mutants had developmental defects, and tested their muscle attachment stability under strain. In conjunction with our mutagenesis efforts, I developed a software program that would aid in the identification of mutant alleles in the F1 offspring of CRISPR mutagenized animals.