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PhD Exit Seminar – Michael Mattocks (Tropepe Lab)

April 27, 2021 @ 2:30 pm - 3:30 pm

Computational Approaches to D. rerio Retinal Organogenesis 




Increasing integration of statistical and computational techniques into the analysis of cell and molecular biological data has created opportunities for explaining organogenic phenomena by numerical analysis. This thesis first examines the suitability of the most developed of these explanations for the development of the D. rerio eye, the stochastic mitotic mode explanation (SMME) for retinal progenitor cell (RPC) function, and demonstrates that it is neither the best available explanation, nor theoretically defensible. It is shown that a deterministic alternative model is an improved explanation for the data, and that the SMME cannot explain postembryonic RPC function. These studies support earlier hypotheses of a linear progression of competency phases over the hypothesized “stochastic” nature of RPC lineage commitment. 


A Bayesian model comparison framework, relying centrally on the Galilean Monte Carlo nested sampling algorithm for estimation of model evidence and posterior parameter distributions, is subsequently elaborated as an improved method for testing models in organogenesis. The utility of this approach is proved by comparing models of D. rerio RPC populations in the postembryonic Circumferential Marginal Zone (CMZ). The inferential framework is used to show that the activity of CMZ RPCs in the postembryonic period is best characterised by a decaying cell cycle rate, with similar activity across morphological axes, despite asymmetrical population dynamics. Changes to RPC lineage commitment across the two phases suggest an explanation for the changing photoreceptor mosaic. These studies establish that CMZ RPC behaviours change over time, whose postembryonic function is not adequately described as a recapitulation of an embryonic program. 


Finally, the D. rerio mutant rys is shown to arise from a lesion in the npat locus, and the apparently paradoxically enlarged CMZ RPC population observed in these animals is demonstrated to arise from a failure of these cells to specify and exit the proliferative niche, and not from a proliferative defect. Nested sampling is used to show that unique populations of nucleosome positions in rys mutants and sibling arise from separate causal processes. A mechanism for these observations involving simultaneous changes to the subunit composition of the nucleosome pool, and loss of translational control, is suggested. 


Join Zoom Meeting

Tuesday, April 27th @ 2:30 pm


Host: Vince Tropepe (v.tropepe@utoronto.ca)


April 27, 2021
2:30 pm - 3:30 pm