Student: Sarah Grandinette
Mentor: Dr. Cuong Diep
Kidney disease continues to threaten the lives of more than 10% of the adult population in the Unites States. The kidneys of these individuals are damaged or have lost the ability to filter blood and maintain health. Currently, the only treatments available are dialysis and transplantation. These treatments have limitations that necessitate a new therapy that might involve regenerating kidney tissue with stem cells. Zebrafish are able to do this and have nephrons that are structurally similar to humans, therefore providing a good model to study the mechanisms behind kidney regeneration. Their stem cells express a transcription factor, lhx1a, which is essential in differentiating stem cells into kidney cells. By identifying peptides, or small proteins, that interact with lhx1a, we can better understand its role in kidney regeneration. Prior research indicates lhx1a may need to dimerize to become active. If some of the peptides inhibit the dimerization of lhx1a and also cause developmental issues in zebrafish, it would suggest that dimerization is necessary for lhx1a to function. We utilized the yeast two-hybrid system to determine which peptides from our library bind to lhx1a. This research could also provide insights into how to manipulate the transcription factor for a future stem cell therapy in humans.