SMB Faculty Profiles

Cynthia D. Cooper

Cynthia D. Cooper

Associate Professor (Vancouver Campus)

Courses Taught:

  • MBioS 301: General Genetics
  • MBioS 405/505: Cell Biology of Disease
  • Biol 321: Principles of Animal Development
Room: Life Sciences (VSCI) 230F
Office Phone: 360-546-9342

Lab Website


Research & Interests

Cooper Group 2011

Early during development, cells receive signals, instructing them to adopt certain fates. Once their fate has been decided, cells respond to additional signals functioning to maintain their differentiated state. Our laboratory is interested in how cells sustain their mature state and normal function in the context of their specialized environments. Specifically, what genes are involved in maintaining cell morphology, localization and survival? How do changes in expression or activity of these genes affect cell development and function? Danio rerio zebrafish melanophores and the surrounding skin cells offer an interesting environment to address these questions. Black melanophores, along with two additional pigment cell types, yellow xanthophores and silver iridophores, are critical for the characteristic pigmentation pattern found in zebrafish. Furthermore, melanophores express many of the same genes found in their mammalian counterpart, the melanocyte, a cell involved in hair, skin and eye color, as well as the tanning response in humans. We are interested in understanding the genes involved in maintaining the differentiated state of melanophores in the context of a developing organism. To accomplish this goal, we are examining several pigment pattern mutants to identify the characteristics of their melanophores and the mutated genes. We also use transgenic zebrafish, expressing green fluorescent protein specific to melanophores, to examine cell migration and morphology. Examining the mechanisms involved in zebrafish melanophore differentiation and function will provide insight into the normal biology of these cells and could provide clues for understanding the diseased cell (i.e. Melanoma or Vitiligo).

See Also

Zebrafish Genetics Lab

Select Publications
  • D.J. Klionsky, C.D. Cooper (2016) Guidelines for the use and interpretation of assays for monitoring autophagy (3rd edition) Autophagy 12(1), 1-222 PMID: PMCID:
  • T.L Wagner, C.D. Cooper, J.A. Gross and A.B. Coffin (2015) The effect of seismic waterguns on the inner ears of round goby Journal of Great Lakes PMID: PMCID:
  • M.J. Lambert, W.O. Cochran, B.M. Wilde, K.G. Olsen and C.D. Cooper (2015) Evidence for widespread subfunctionalization of splice forms in vertebrate genomes Genome Res 25(5), 624-32 PMID: PMCID:
  • M.J. Lambert, K.G. Olsen and C.D. Cooper (2014) Gene duplication followed by exon structure divergence may substitute for alternative splicing Gene. 546(2), 271-6 PMID: PMCID:
  • A.J. Beirl, T.H. Linbo, M.J. Cobb and C.D. Cooper (2014) oca2 regulation of chromatophore differentiation and number is cell type specific in zebrafish Pigment Cell Melanoma Res 27(2), 178-89 PMID: PMCID:
  • L.F. Clancey, A.J. Beirl, T.H. Linbo and C.D. Cooper (2013) Maintenance of melanophore morphology and survival is cathepsin and vps11 dependent in zebrafish PLoS ONE 9(5) PMID: PMCID:
  • C.D. Cooper, T.H. Linbo and D.W. Raible (2009) kit and foxd3 genetically interact to regulate melanophore survival in zebrafish Dev Dyn 238(4), 875-886 PMID: PMCID:
  • Cooper C.D. and D.W. Raible (2009) Mechanisms for reaching the differentiated state: Insights from neural crest derived melanocytes Sem Cell Dev Biol 20, 105-110 PMID: PMCID:
  • Lampe P.D., Cooper C.D., King T. J. and Burt J.M. (2006) Analysis of Connexin43 phosphorylated at S325, S328 and S330 in normoxic and ischemic heart. J Cell Sci 119, 3435-42 PMID: PMCID:
  • Lister J.A., Cooper C.D., Nguyen K, Modrell M, Grant K, Raible D.W. (2006) Zebrafish Foxd3 is required for development of a subset of neural crest derivatives Dev Biol 290, 92-104 PMID: PMCID:
  • Cooper, C.D. and P.D. Lampe (2002) Casein Kinase 1 Regulates Connexin43 Gap Junction Assembly. Journal of Biological Chemistry 277(47), 44962-44968 PMID: PMCID:
  • Cooper, C.D., Solan, J.L., Dolejsi, M.K., Lampe, P.D. (2000) Analysis of Connexin Phosphorylation Sites. Methods 20(2), 196-204 PMID: PMCID:
Washington State University