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Winter 2010

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In previous studies using mammalian models we have found both clinical and laboratory evidence of a role for melanocortins in endochondral ossification. The melanocortin system has remarkable conservation among vertebrates and melanocortin receptors are expressed with significant sequence homology in teleosts to mammals. The overall goal of these studies is to provide a more accessible model of melanocortin involvement in endochondral growth. We hope to determine if melanocortins play a role during endochondral ossification of the developing chicken limb. Like in mammals melanocortins are widely distributed throughout the body of chicken and participate in a wide range of physiological functions with the peripheral tissue distribution of melanocortin receptors in chicken more widespread. Our first step was to examine melanocortin expression in the developing limbs of the chick embryo. Using immunohistochemistry techniques, we detected ACTH (1-24) in the limbs of embryonic day 9 chick embryos. This initial data indicates that the chick embryo is a viable model that can be used to determine a role for melanocortin in endochondral growth. Melanocortin expression shows remarkable sequence homology, therefore results of these studies can be extrapolated to many vertebrate models.

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Michelle Vigliotti is a Molloy undergraduate student.