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Michael Hayes

Mentor: Daniel Weeks, Ph.D.
Lab Room: 4-711A BSB
Lab Phone: 319-335-7918

Understanding the Dynamic Regulation of the Cardiogenic Transcription Factor Nkx2-5 in Xenopus laevis

Congenital heart disease is one of the most common abnormalities present at birth, effecting up to 13.1 of every 1000 live births. Among the most common single gene mutations responsible for this tremendous disease burden are defects in Nkx2-5, a member of the NK-2 homeodomain containing transcription factor family. The transcription factor Nkx2-5 plays a crucial role in development, function and maintenance of cardiac tissues in all organisms that form hearts. Nkx2-5 contributes to early cardiovascular development by driving the specification of cardiac, endothelial and hematopoietic cell precursors. Following this specification Nkx2-5 is thought to act as an inhibitor of hematopoiesis; however, we have recently found that in the model organism Xenopus laevis Nkx2-5 is expressed in both embryonic and adult peripheral blood. Nkx2-5’s expression in multiple tissues and ability to both promote and inhibit transcription of different targets necessitates dynamic regulation at the transcriptional and post translational levels. Currently we are dissecting this regulation and its downstream effects using a variety of methods including quantitative RT-PCR, ChIP-seq, transgenic reporter animals and knockdown-rescue experiments with mutant Nkx2-5.

Hayes MH, Peuchen EH, Dovichi NJ, Weeks DL. Dual roles for ATP in the regulation of phase separated protein aggregates in Xenopus oocyte nucleoli. Elife. 2018 Jul 17;7. pii: e35224. doi: 10.7554/eLife.35224. PubMed PMID:30015615; PubMed Central PMCID: PMC6050040.

Hayes MH, Weeks DL. Amyloids assemble as part of recognizable structures during oogenesis in Xenopus. Biol Open. 2016 Jun 15;5(6):801-6. doi:10.1242/bio.017384. PubMed PMID: 27215327; PubMed Central PMCID: PMC4920187.

Honors and Awards

  • Outstanding poster in the Basic Sciences Award, Medical Student Research Day 2009