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Kara Cerveny

Post Doc

I have recently moved from UCL to Reed College in Portland Oregon, USA. The info below is for reference only. You can peruse my current interests and aims here or contact me here

Education and Training


University College London, London, UK
Cell & Developmental Biology

Co-investigator on the Cancer Research UK sponsored grant entitled “Environmentally forced differentiation: exploring how the environment prevents uncontrolled proliferation of neuronal progenitors in the zebrafish retina” (2010-2012)

Damon Runyon Cancer Research Fellowship for “From Proliferation to Differentiation: Understanding the genes that coordinate the transition from cell proliferation to differentiation in the vertebrate retina” (2005-2008)


1998- 2005
Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, Baltimore, MD, USA
Program in Biochemistry, Cell and Molecular Biology
Ph.D. thesis “The Molecular Mechanisms of Mitochondrial Division” Advisor: Robert E. Jensen


Duke University, Durham, NC
B.S., Biology; B.A., Chemistry

During my PhD studies on mitochondrial dynamics and inheritance in Rob Jensen’s lab, I became interested in the nervous system because of its intense energy requirements. Interestingly, mutations in proteins important for mitochondrial dynamics are linked to several neurodegenerative diseases, including optic atrophy or blindness. After taking an introductory course on Vision Research at the Woods Hole MBL, and then the zebrafish neurodevelopment course the next year, I immigrated to London and began to explore vertebrate eye development and neurogenesis.

Many stages of eye development are fascinating. Currently, I am concentrating on events that require the coordination between cell proliferation and differentiation. The zebrafish retina is a perfect model for these experiments because it has a stem cell niche termed the ciliary marginal zone (CMZ). The CMZ contains neuroepithelial cells that are spatially ordered with respect to cellular differentiation, with the youngest and least determined cells are found nearest the periphery, the proliferative retinoblasts are in the middle, and the quiescent, mature cells are most central. We can use markers that are expressed in different regions of the CMZ to examine the behavior of neural progenitor cells in the ciliary marginal zone and dissect how cells transition from progenitor to post-mitotic neuron.

Organization of the CMZ. A) Brackets indicate the retinal stem cell niche of a 3dpf zebrafish eye. β-catenin staining highlights the cell membranes and plexiform layers. B-E) Different regions of the CMZ are demarkated by gene expression patterns. The least differentiated cells (mz98), cycling progenitors (ccnD1), differentiating neuroblasts (ath5) and cells exiting their final cell cycle (cdkn1c).

In addition to studying the ciliary marginal zone, I am also very interested in understanding how early neurogenic decisions are made in the retina. I have begun to test the relative contributions of cell intrinsic timing mechanisms and extrinsic cues to the initiation and propagation of neurogenic signals in the differentiating retina. Through the use of timelapse microscopy and mosaic analysis, I hope to better understand how cells switch from proliferation to differentiation in the neural retina. Below are some movies that illustrate the importance of cell cycle progression for retinal neurogenesis.

movie 1 movie2
The relationship between proneural gene expression and cell cycle progression as studied with timelapse movies of the ath5:GFP transgenic line. Ath5 expression presages the birth of retinal ganglion cells in the control situation (cntrl) but is only expressed in a limited population of undifferentiated progenitors when cell division is inhibited (hua on). Propagation, but not initiation, of ath5 expression requires cell division.


Cerveny KL, Varga M, Wilson SW. (2012)
Continued growth and circuit building in the anamniote visual system.
Dev Neurobiol. 2012 Mar;72(3):328-45.
click to download pdf

Cerveny, K.L., Cavodeassi, F., K. J. Turner, T. A. de Jong-Curtain, J. K. Heath, and S. W. Wilson (2010)
The zebrafish flotte lotte mutant reveals that the local retinal environment promotes the differentiation of proliferating precursors emerging from their stem cell niche
Development 137: 2107-2115
click to download pdf

Cerveny, K.L., Tamura, Y., Zhan, Z., Jensen, R.E., and Sesaki, H. (2007)
Regulation of Mitochondrial Fusion and Division
Trends Cell Biol. 17: 563-569

Cerveny, K.L., Studer, S., Jensen, R.E., and Sesaki, H. (2007)
Yeast Mitochondrial Division and Distribution Requires the Cortical Num1 Protein
Dev Cell. 12:363-75

Cerveny K.L. and Jensen, R.E. (2003)
The WD-repeats of Net2p interact with Dnm1p and Fis1p to regulate division of mitochondria.
Mol Biol Cell. 14: 4126-4139
click to download pdf

Cerveny, K.L., and Jensen, R.E. (2002)
The WD-repeats of Net2p interact with Dnm1p and Fis1p to assemble mitochondrial fission complexes
Abstract. Yeast Genetics and Molecular Biology Meeting, Madison, WI.

Cerveny, K.L., and Jensen R.E., (2002)
Building a Mitochondrial “Divisisome”
Abstract. American Society for Cell Biology Meeting, San Francisco, CA.

Cerveny, K.L., McCaffery, J.M., and Jensen, R.E. (2001)
Division of mitochondria requires a novel DNM1-interacting protein, Net2p
Mol Biol Cell. 12: 309-21
click to download pdf

Cerveny, K.L., McCaffery, J.M., and Jensen, R.E. (2001)
Net2p interacts with Dnm1p to mediate mitochondrial division. Abstract.
Abstract. American Society for Cell Biology Meeting, Washington, D.C

Jensen, R.E., Aiken Hobbs, A.E., Cerveny, K.L., and Sesaki, H (2000)
Yeast mitochondrial dynamics: fusion, division, segregation and shape
Microsc Res Tech. 51: 573-583
click to download pdf

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