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Presentation Time: 11:05-11:25
Home University: UNC-Chapel Hill
Research Mentor: Frank Conlon, Biology
Program: SMART
Research Title: A Proteomics Based Approach to Determine the Role of the Cardiac Neural Crest

Outflow tract abnormalities are the most frequent congenital heart defects. These are due to the absence or dysfunction of the two main cell types: neural crest cells and secondary heart field cells. In a developing embryo, the neural crest is a transient structure that allows for neural crest cells to migrate and give rise to different organs. Neural crest derivatives originate from four major segments: cranial, cardiac, vagal, and trunk. cKit is a receptor tyrosine kinase that marks several cell lineages, including neural crest, hematopoietic, and germ-line stem cells. Signaling from cKit is crucial for normal hematopoiesis, pigmentation, fertility, gut-movement, and some aspects of the nervous system. Fate mapping experiments using novel cKitCreERT2 mouse lines revealed cKit positive cells give rise to all expected cardiac neural crest derivatives, including the outflow tract of the heart, tunica media of the aortic arch, cardiac and aortic valves, atria, and inflow tract. There are multiple cKit mutations in the mouse. One mutant, cKitW44, exhibits defects in melanocytes and germ cell development, but has completely normal blood values. Since cKit positive cells give rise to cardiac neural crest derivatives, we sought to determine if cKitW44 mice exhibit neural crest derived cardiac defects using quantitative mass spectrometry based approaches and histological examination. We further aim to explore if there are biological sex differences in cardiac tissue of these cKitW44 mice.