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Rolf Karlstrom

Professor and Department Chair

Our laboratory uses the zebrafish as a “simple” vertebrate system to study how the forebrain and pituitary gland form during embryogenesis. We are also examining how embryonic cell-cell signaling systems continue to be used by the organism to modulate tissue growth and function throughout the life cycle. Accessible and rapid early development, a complete genetic toolbox for studying gene function in vivo, and the ability to generate fluorescent transgenic lines, are just some of the features that make the zebrafish a powerful model system and teaching tool. The basic cellular mechanisms that guide embryonic development and tissue renewal are remarkably conserved across vertebrate species, making these studies in zebrafish applicable to humans. Given the critical importance that embryonic cell signaling systems play in both adult tissue renewal (e.g. stem cell regulation) and disease (e.g. cancer), studies in zebrafish are increasingly providing important mechanistic information needed to understand and treat human disease.

Current Research

  • Hedgehog signaling in post-embryonic pituitary and forebrain growth.
  • Early induction and patterning of the vertebrate pituitary gland.
  • Ontogeny of Pituitary Endocrine Signaling during embryonic and post-embryonic development.

Learn more at www.bio.umass.edu/biology/karlstrom/KarlstromLab.html

Academic Background

  • BS Northern Arizona University, 1985
  • PhD University of Utah, Salt Lake City, 1993
  • Postdoctoral Training: 1993, University of Utah, 1994-1996, Max-Planck-Institute for Developmental Biology, Tubingen, Germany, 1996-1998, Skirball Institute, New York University Medical Center
Tonyushkina KN, Krug S, Ortiz-Toro T, Mascari T, Karlstrom RO. Endocrinology. Low Thyroid Hormone Levels Disrupt Thyrotrope Development. 2017 Sep1;158(9):27742782.doi:10.1210/en.2016-1935. PMID:28658938
Tonyushkina, K, Shen, M-C, Ortiz-Toro, T., and Karlstrom, R.O. (2013) Embryonic exposure to excess thyroid hormone causes thyrotrope cell death. Journal of Clinical Investigation. doi: 10.1172/JCI70038. [Epub ahead of print]
Shen, M.C., Ozacar, A.T, Boeras, C, Pink, J., Thomas, J., Kohtz, J., and Karlstrom R.O. 2013. Heat Shock Mediated Conditional Regulation of Hedgehog/Gli Signaling in Zebrafish. Developmental Dynamics, 242(5): 539-49.
Breves, J.P., Serizier, S.B., Goffin, V., McCormick, S.D., Karlstrom, R.O. 2013. Prolactin regulates transcription of the ion uptake Na+/Cl- cotransporter (ncc) gene in zebrafish gill. Mol. Cell Endocrinology, 369(1-2): 98-106.
Breves JP, McCormick SD, Karlstrom RO. Prolactin and teleost ionocytes: new insights into cellular and molecular targets of prolactin in vertebrate epithelia.Gen Comp Endocrinol. 2014 Jul 1;203:21-8. doi: 10.1016/j.ygcen.2013.12.014. Epub 2014 Jan 13. Review. PMID: 24434597
Bergeron, S.A., Tyurina, O.V., Miller, E., Bagas, A., Karlstrom, R.O. 2011. Brother of cdo (umleitung) is cell-autonomously required for Hedgehog-mediated ventral CNS patterning in the zebrafish. Development, Jan;138(1): 75-85. Epub. 2010, Nov 29.
Devine, C.A., Sbrogna, J.L., Guner, B. Osgood, M., Shen, M-C., and Karlstrom, R.O. (2009) A dynamic Gli code interprets Hh signals to regulate induction, patterning, and endocrine cell specification in the zebrafish pituitary. Developmental Biology. 326(1):143-54.
Guner, B. Ozacar, A.T., Thomas, J.E. and Karlstrom, R.O. (2008) Graded Hh and Fgf signaling independently regulate pituitary cell fates and help establish the PD and PI of the zebrafish adenohypophysis. Endocrinology. 149(9):4435-51
Contact Info

Department of Biology
337E Morrill II South
North Pleasant Street
Amherst, MA 01003-9292

(413) 577-3448