Date of Award

Winter 12-14-2014

Degree Type

Honors Thesis


Honors Biology - Molecular Biology Concentration

Degree Name

Bachelor of Science



First Advisor

Dr. Christina Tzagarakis-Foster

Second Advisor

Dr. Mary Jane Niles

Third Advisor

Dr. Gary Stevens


DAX-1 is known to play a key role in the maintenance of pluripotency in mouse embryonic stem cells (mESC), such that elimination of DAX-1 (through methods such as RNAi) leads to the differentiation of ESC (Khalfallah et al. 2009). Earlier research by the Tzagarakis-Foster lab identified target genes of DAX-1 in mESC through PCR array methodology (Torres 2013). The Dickkopf 1 gene (Dkk1) was identified as a potential target of DAX-1 by these studies and has since been confirmed to be a DAX-1 target in mESC. However, to date very little is understood of the mechanism of DAX-1 repression of Dkk1 in mESC. In order to better understand the relationship between DAX-1 and Dkk1 in mESC, DAX-1 was knocked down via RNAi and levels of gene expression were measured by qPCR. We found that Dkk1 gene expression exhibited more than a twofold increase in mESCs that had a DAX-1 knockdown, which supports our hypothesis that DAX-1 acts as a negative transcriptional regulator of Dkk1.