There are 74 bones in the zebrafish skull but only 22 in humans. Primary investigator Lindsey Barske uses zebrafish models in her human genetics lab at Cincinnati Children's.

There are 74 bones in the zebrafish skull but only 22 in humans.

The Barske Lab studies how patterning genes control the development and differentiation of the craniofacial skeleton. Our work focuses on genes that determine where and when skeletal progenitor cells begin to differentiate into cartilage or bone in the head of the embryo, with a particular interest in genetic pathways that actively inhibit early differentiation. Mutations in these genes lead to precocious or ectopic differentiation and may deplete stem cell populations needed to make later-forming cell types or for homeostasis of adult structures.

Importantly for human health, we hypothesize that this type of precocious differentiation is a shared etiology contributing to a number of craniofacial anomalies affecting different parts of the skull, including cleft palate, premature fusion of the cranial sutures (craniosynostosis), and middle ear bone abnormalities. By investigating how these and other patterning genes work in concert to sculpt the skull as it forms, we hope to improve intervention paradigms for both pediatric and adult patients.

Our laboratory is located within the Research Building at Cincinnati Children's. Lindsey Barske, PhD, is an assistant professor in the divisions of Human Genetics and Developmental Biology as well as a faculty mentor in the Molecular and Developmental Biology Graduate Program (MDB).