Michael L. Robinson

Michael L. RobinsonProfessor

258 Pearson Hall

Biographical Information

The Robinson lab focuses on the developmental genetics of vertebrate eye development with a special emphasis on lens development and retina regeneration.

We specialize in genetic engineering of mice and human cells to answer specific developmental questions related to cellular differentiation. We use CRISPR/Cas9 genomic editing to make designed alterations in mouse zygotes, mouse embryonic stem cells and human induced pluripotent stem cells. We also use stem cells and tissue explants to model organ development and formation in vitro. Projects in the laboratory revolve around two major themes. The first seeks to understand the mechanism by which lens fiber cells differentiate from lens epithelial cells.

The second theme flows from the observation that newts respond to the removal of the neural retina by regenerating an entirely new, functional neural retina from retina pigmented epithelial cells. In mammals, neural retina tissue does not spontaneously regenerate following neural retina damage. As a result, human retina damage and/or degeneration results in incurable blindness. The Robinson lab focuses on discovering the molecular signals that can induce human retina pigment epithelial cells to regenerate a functional neural retina.

Courses Taught

  • BIO 342: Genetics
  • BIO 361: Patterns in Development
  • BIO 491: Senior Seminar
  • BIO 710: Graduate Seminar in Developmental Genetics

Selected Publications

  • Hoang TV, Horowitz ER, Chaffee BR, Qi P, Flake RE, Bruney DG, Rasor BJ, Rosalez SE, Wagner BD and Robinson ML. 2017. Lens development requires DNMT1 but takes place normally in the absence of both DNMT3A and DNMT3b activity. Epigenetics 12:27-40
  • Chaffee BR, Hoang TV, Leonard MR, Bruney DG, Wagner BD, Dowd JR, Leone G, Ostrowski MC and Robinson ML 2016. FGFR and PTEN signaling interact during lens development to regulate cell survival. Dev Biol 410:150-163.
  • Hoang TV, Raj Kumar PK, Sutharzan S, Tsonis PA, Liang C and Robinson ML. 2014. Comparative transcriptome analysis of epithelial and fiber cells in newborn mouse lenses by RNA sequencing. Mol Vis 20:1491-1517.
  • Chaffee BR, Shang F, Chang ML, Clement TM, Eddy EM, Wagner BD, Nakahara M, Nagata S, Robinson ML and Taylor A. 2014. Nuclear removal during terminal lens fiber cell differentiation requires CDK1 activity: Appropriating mitosis-related nuclear disassembly. Development 141:3388-3398.
  • Robinson ML. From Zygote to Lens: Emergence of the Lens Epithelium. In Lens Epithelium and Posterior Capsular Opacification, edited by S Saika, L Werner and FJ Lovicu. Pp. 3-24. Springer, Tokyo, Japan. 2014.
  • Madakashira BP, Kobrinski DA, Hancher AD, Arneman EC, Wagner BD, Wang F, Shin H, Lovicu FJ, Reneker LW and Robinson ML. 2012. Frs2α enhances fibroblast growth factor-mediated survival and differentiation in lens development. Development 139:4601-4612.
  • Garcia CM, Huang J, Madakashira BP, Liu Y, Rajagopal R, Dattilo L, Robinson ML and Beebe DC. 2011. The function of FGF signaling in the lens placode. Dev Biol 351:176-185.