Zebrafish has many characteristics that make them a valuable model for studying human genetics and disease responses. To pursue her research project, Nouf created ATF6 zebrafish mutants using a specialized DNA sequence for gene editing.
These zebrashift mutants possess a frameshift mutation, expected to alter ATF6 function. In addition, Nouf made transgenic lines marking hepatocytes in the liver of the mutants in order to investigate how the ATF6 mutant impacts steatosis and unfolded protein response in the liver when ATF6 is knocked out.
For Nouf's Kawader project, she wants to build on her undergraduate thesis, focusing on the characterization of ATF6 function, which is the most understudied of pathways during development and stress response in zebrafish.
Nouf completed her Bachelor of Science in Biology at NYU Abu Dhabi, where she worked at the Sadler Edepli Laboratory as an undergraduate researcher. One of the projects in the laboratory include investigating the mechanisms through which oxidative stress causes unfolded protein response during arsenic exposure. It was her involvement with this project that prompted a deeper interest in pathways that regulate unfolded protein responses in humans.
“My work with the Sadler Edepli Laboratory during my undergraduate years continues to define my research career to this day," Nouf said. "By working on a variety of projects alongside Professor Edepli, I was able to develop the necessary skills to independently pursue my own research. Moreover, this experience allowed me to find my own niche of interest within the field of biology, and inspired my current work as a Kawader Fellow."
Nouf wants to accomplish several goals through her research project. Primarily, she wants to understand the distinct difference in ATF6 function between the zebrafish mutant group and wild zebrafish in both stressful and stress-free conditions, as well as when in contact with different chemical substances, such as arsenic and ethanol.
By imaging the lipid accumulation in the liver of ATF6 transgenic mutants, Nouf hopes to learn more about how stress prompted by the release of toxins affects basic bodily functions, allowing her to suggest ways in which health outcomes could be improved.