Date Available


Year of Publication


Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)

Document Type

Master's Thesis


Arts and Sciences



First Advisor

Dr. Jakub Famulski


In the developing embryo, the timely fusion of opposing epithelial sheets into one uniform layer denotes the completion of several developmental events. Failure of this epithelial sheet fusion event (ESF) within the choroid fissure (CF) is associated with the congenital disorder Ocular Coloboma, and is one of the leading causes of pediatric blindness. A requirement for a highly coordinated dismantling of the basement membrane (BM) to allow for fusion to occur is undoubted, however the underlying mechanisms of this process are poorly understood. Due to its BM crosslinking capabilities, I have hypothesized that the regulation of nidogen plays a crucial role in the disassembly of the BM prior to ESF. Whole mount in situ hybridization for all four BM components has revealed that expression of nidogen decreases prior to that of other BM components. Additionally, preliminary IHC data has revealed nidogen and collagenIV deposition within the CF. Further, knock-down of nidogen1a and 1b, or the expression of dominant negative nidogen1b resulted in gross morphological, as well as BM organization defects in developing eyes. Together, these data suggest that nidogen plays a role in regulating the integrity of the BM of the eye and may play a role in its disassembly prior to ESF.

Digital Object Identifier (DOI)