Jennifer Rhodes, PhD

Jennifer Rhodes, PhD

Assistant Professor

Director, Zebrafish Facility

Lab Overview

My laboratory is interested in understanding how the specialized cells found in the blood normally develop, a process called hematopoiesis, and how disturbances in this process can contribute to blood cell transformation and cancer. Our research makes use of zebrafish, specifically Danio rerio, a small freshwater fish that has the same spectrum of blood cell types that are present in people and mice. The transparent embryos develop outside the mother's body, each growing from a fertilized egg to an embryo with a beating heart in just 25 hours. We can easily manipulate the genetics of the zebrafish, by inducing random mutations in the DNA, knocking down expression of individual genes, or overexpressing genes of interest. Together, these characteristics make it easy to experimentally manipulate and analyze hematopoiesis, and make zebrafish an ideal model for our studies.

Cancerous cells of hematopoietic origin often have chromosomal deletions, which are thought to contribute to the development of the disease by removing one or more tumor suppressor genes. However, the deleted regions are often very large, making it difficult to identify the critical gene or genes. A growing body of evidence has shown that factors essential for the normal development of mature hematopoietic cells can also function as tumor suppressors in blood cell cancers. My laboratory uses the power of zebrafish genetics to discover novel genes that are essential for normal blood cell development and to test their potential to act as tumor suppressors. This strategy allows us to expand our current knowledge regarding the biology of blood cells and explore zebrafish models of hematopoietic disease, with the goal of revealing important insights to the genesis and progression of blood cell cancers.

  • Regions of hematopoietic development in zebrafish embryo

  • Zebrafish hematopoietic cells

  • Hematopoietic specific transgenic zebrafish

  • Adult zebrafish in the Fox Chase facility


    Educational Background

    • PhD, Oregon Health Sciences University, Portland, OR
    • BS, Oregon State University, Corvallis, OR


    • American Society of Hematology


    Additional Staff

    • Bruce Young, Volunteer

    Research Facility

    Research Interests

    Hematopoietic development and transformation

    • Hematopoietic gene discovery using forward genetic approaches in zebrafish
    • Genetic networks involved in the healthy development and malignant transformation of blood cells
    • Transgenic tools for the analysis of subsets of hematopoietic cells in live zebrafish

    Selected Publications

    Araiza-Olivera D, Feng Y, Semenova G, Prudnikova TY, Rhodes J, Chernoff J. Suppression of RAC1-driven malignant melanoma by group A PAK inhibitors. Oncogene, 37(7):944-52, 2018. PMC5814328

    Seiler C, Gebhart N, Zhang Y, Shinton SA, Li Y, Ross NL, Liu X, Li Q, Bilbee AN, Gaurav K. Varshney GK, LaFave MC, Burgess SM2, Balciuniene J, Balciunas D, Hardy RR, Kappes DJ, Wiest DL, Rhodes J.  Mutagenesis screen identifies agtpbp1 and eps15L1 as essential for T lymphocyte development in zebrafish. Plos One. 2015 Jul 10;10(7):e0131908. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0131908. PubMed PMCID: PMC4498767.

    Pimtong W, Datta M, Ulrich AM, Rhodes J. Drl.3 governs primitive hematopoiesis in zebrafish. Sci Rep. 2014 Jul 23;4:5791. PubMed PMCID: PMC4107348.

    Zhang Y, Duc AC, Rao S, Sun XL, Bilbee AN, Rhodes M, Li Q, Kappes DJ, Rhodes J, Wiest DL. Control of hematopoietic stem cell emergence by antagonistic functions of ribosomal protein paralogs. Dev Cell. 2013 Feb 25;24(4):411-25. PubMed PMCID: PMC3586312.

    Robu ME, Zhang Y, Rhodes J. Rereplication in emi1-deficient zebrafish embryos occurs through a Cdh1-mediated pathway. PLoS One. 2012;7(10):e47658. PubMed PMCID: PMC3474755.

    Payne EM, Bolli N, Rhodes J, Abdel-Wahab OI, Levine R, Hedvat CV, Stone R, Khanna-Gupta A, Sun H, Kanki JP, Gazda HT, Beggs AH, Cotter FE, Look AT. Ddx18 is essential for cell-cycle progression in zebrafish hematopoietic cells and is mutated in human AML. Blood. 2011 Jul 28;118(4):903-15. PubMed PMCID: PMC3148170.

    Bolli N, Payne EM, Rhodes J, Gjini E, Johnston AB, Guo F, Lee JS, Stewart RA, Kanki JP, Chen AT, Zhou Y, Zon LI, Look AT. cpsf1 is required for definitive HSC survival in zebrafish. Blood. 2011 Apr 14;117(15):3996-4007. PubMed PMCID: PMC3087528

    Robinson BW, Germano G, Song Y, Abrams J, Scott M, Guariento I, Tiso N, Argenton F, Basso G, Rhodes J, Kanki JP, Look AT, Balice-Gordon RJ, Felix CA. mll ortholog containing functional domains of human MLL is expressed throughout the zebrafish lifespan and in haematopoietic tissues. Br J Haematol. 2011 Feb;152(3):307-21. PubMed PMCID: PMC3158705.

    Rhodes J, Amsterdam A, Sanda T, Moreau LA, McKenna K, Heinrichs S, Ganem NJ, Ho KW, Neuberg DS, Johnston A, Ahn Y, Kutok JL, Hromas R, Wray J, Lee C, Murphy C, Radtke I, Downing JR, Fleming MD, MacConaill LE, Amatruda JF, Gutierrez A, Galinsky I, Stone RM, Ross EA, Pellman DS, Kanki JP, Look AT. Emi1 maintains genomic integrity during zebrafish embryogenesis and cooperates with p53 in tumor suppression. Mol Cell Biol. 2009 Nov;29(21):5911-22. PubMed PMCID: PMC2772726.

    Rhodes J, Hagen A, Hsu K, Deng M, Liu TX, Look AT, Kanki JP. Interplay of pu.1 and gata1 determines myelo-erythroid progenitor cell fate in zebrafish. Dev Cell. 2005 Jan;8(1):97-108. PubMed.

    Hsu K, Traver D, Kutok JL, Hagen A, Liu TX, Paw BH, Rhodes J, Berman JN, Zon LI, Kanki JP, Look AT. The pu.1 promoter drives myeloid gene expression in zebrafish. Blood. 2004 Sep 1;104(5):1291-7. PubMed

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