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David Grunwald

Professor of Human Genetics

Stem Cells, Tissue Specification, Disease Modeling in the Zebrafish

David Grunwald


Molecular Biology Program


B.A. Williams College

Ph.D. University of Wisconsin, Madison



Our goals are i) to uncover conserved mechanisms that regulate the generation and organization of tissues in the vertebrate embryo, and ii) to understand the roles of molecular and genetic pathways that are disturbed in inherited birth defects and syndromes. We work with zebrafish because of the detail with which tissue development can be monitored in the nearly transparent, rapidly developing zebrafish embryo, and the ease with which gene expression can be perturbed and mutants can be isolated. We identify genes of interest either because of their mutant phenotypes affecting zebrafish embryo development or because of their roles in human disease processes. We then use the zebrafish to uncover the molecular and cellular processes that are normally governed by the genes and perturbed by mutations. To advance our goals we have developed methods to precisely edit the zebrafish genome, allowing us, for example, to recreate human mutations in the zebrafish or to express fluorescent proteins or enzymes from any endogenous locus. The genome editing tools also allow us to remove genes in a tissue-specific manner to study their roles in specific developmental contexts.

Ongoing research projects include study of: 1) transcription patterns that maintain the pluripotent stem cell state, 2) the role of calcium mobilization in intercellular Hedgehog Growth Factor signaling and left/right patterning, 3) the genetic basis of osteoarthritis, and 4) methods for advancing genome editing in zebrafish.

References (Selected Publications)

  1. Jurynec MJ, et al. (2018). A hyperactivating proinflammatory RIPK2 allele associated with early-onset osteoarthritis. Human Molecular Genetics27, 2383-2391
  2. Shaw DK, et al. (2018). Intracellular calcium mobilization is required for Sonic hedgehog signaling. Developmental Cell 45, 1-14.
  3. Hoshijima K, Jurynec MJ, and Grunwald DJ. (2016). Precise editing of the zebrafish genome made simple and efficient. Developmental Cell 36, 654-667.
  4. Dahlem TJ, et al. (2012). Simple methods for generating and detecting locus-specific mutations induced with TALENs in the zebrafish genome. PLoS Genetics 8, e1002861.
  5. Bai X, et al. (2010). TIFγ controls erythroid cell fate by regulating transcription elongation. Cell 142, 133-143.
  6. Jurynec MJ, et al. (2008). Selenoprotein N is required for Ryanodine Receptor calcium release channel activity in human and zebrafish muscle. Proc Nat Acad Sci (USA) 105,12485-90.
  7. Lamason RL, et al. (2005). SLC24A5, a putative cation exchanger, affects pigmentation in zebrafish and humans. Science 310, 1782-1786.
  8. Goering LM, et al. (2003). An interacting network of T-box genes directs gene expression and fate in the zebrafish mesoderm. Proc Nat Acad Sci (USA) 100, 9410-9415. PMC170932
Last Updated: 6/30/21