We also apply genetic analysis and cell lineage tracing using the zebrafish system to understanding how bone evolved and forms. We have identified that dermal bone of the zebrafish body is mesodermally derived, suggesting osteogenesis may have been an invention of the somites, not the neural crest.
We have further characterised a mutant strain lacking functional Bmp1a metalloprotease. This mutant displays defects in the collagen matrix of both the dermis and bone, compromising integrity of the skin dermis as well as the skeleton. This mutant thus accurately models the human Brittle Bone disease, Osteogenesis Imperfecta, and we are collaborating with clinical geneticists who have identified BMP1 lesions in patients with Osteogenesis Imperfecta. Being fracture prone, the bmp1a fish mutant also complements our investigations into mechanisms of fracture repair.