Sabine Fuhrmann
Faculty Member
Last active: 3/24/2020


Research Interests

The retinal pigment epithelium (RPE) is essential for visual function and preserving the structural and physiological integrities of neighboring tissues. Defects in RPE function, whether through chronic dysfunction or age-related decline, are associated with retinal degenerative diseases including age-related macular degeneration. Our work is focused on identifying the cellular and molecular mechanisms regulating the specification and differentiation of retinal progenitors and RPE. These studies have implications for stem cell biology and for elucidating the causes of retinal and RPE diseases.


To truly understand RPE development, it is important to begin at the steps leading to the formation of the eye field. Like the neural retina, the RPE is a derivative of the optic neuroepithelium, which is initially specified as a patch of cells, the "eye field", in the anterior neuroectoderm. Some progress has been made on resolving the mechanistic underpinnings of these early developmental steps, however, several questions remain unresolved, such as the initiation of the eye field.


We use conditional inactivation in mice, in combination with tissue culture and biochemical and cell biological approaches to test the function of extracellular signaling pathways (e.g. Wnt signaling) in ocular morphogenesis, RPE induction and differentiation as well as RPE homeostasis in the adult eye.



The following timeline graph is generated from all co-authored publications.

Featured publications are shown below:

  1. Retrograde Degenerative Signaling Mediated by the p75 Neurotrophin Receptor Requires p150 Deacetylation by Axonal HDAC1. Pathak A, Stanley EM, Hickman FE, Wallace N, Brewer B, Li D, Gluska S, Perlson E, Fuhrmann S, Akassoglou K, Bronfman F, Casaccia P, Burnette DT, Carter BD (2018) Dev Cell 46(3): 376-387.e7
    › Primary publication · 30086304 (PubMed) · PMC6093198 (PubMed Central)
  2. A Chimeric Egfr Protein Reporter Mouse Reveals Egfr Localization and Trafficking In Vivo. Yang YP, Ma H, Starchenko A, Huh WJ, Li W, Hickman FE, Zhang Q, Franklin JL, Mortlock DP, Fuhrmann S, Carter BD, Ihrie RA, Coffey RJ (2017) Cell Rep 19(6): 1257-1267
    › Primary publication · 28494873 (PubMed) · PMC5517093 (PubMed Central)
  3. Loss of Axin2 Causes Ocular Defects During Mouse Eye Development. Alldredge A, Fuhrmann S (2016) Invest Ophthalmol Vis Sci 57(13): 5253-5262
    › Primary publication · 27701636 (PubMed) · PMC5054732 (PubMed Central)
  4. Multiple requirements of the focal dermal hypoplasia gene porcupine during ocular morphogenesis. Bankhead EJ, Colasanto MP, Dyorich KM, Jamrich M, Murtaugh LC, Fuhrmann S (2015) Am J Pathol 185(1): 197-213
    › Primary publication · 25451153 (PubMed) · PMC4278246 (PubMed Central)
  5. Retinal pigment epithelium development, plasticity, and tissue homeostasis. Fuhrmann S, Zou C, Levine EM (2014) Exp Eye Res : 141-50
    › Primary publication · 24060344 (PubMed) · PMC4087157 (PubMed Central)
  6. Extraocular ectoderm triggers dorsal retinal fate during optic vesicle evagination in zebrafish. Kruse-Bend R, Rosenthal J, Quist TS, Veien ES, Fuhrmann S, Dorsky RI, Chien CB (2012) Dev Biol 371(1): 57-65
    › Primary publication · 22921921 (PubMed) · PMC3455121 (PubMed Central)
  7. Eye morphogenesis and patterning of the optic vesicle. Fuhrmann S (2010) Curr Top Dev Biol : 61-84
    › Primary publication · 20959163 (PubMed) · PMC2958684 (PubMed Central)
  8. Ectopic Mitf in the embryonic chick retina by co-transfection of β-catenin and Otx2. Westenskow PD, McKean JB, Kubo F, Nakagawa S, Fuhrmann S (2010) Invest Ophthalmol Vis Sci 51(10): 5328-35
    › Primary publication · 20463321 (PubMed) · PMC3066625 (PubMed Central)
  9. AP-2alpha knockout mice exhibit optic cup patterning defects and failure of optic stalk morphogenesis. Bassett EA, Williams T, Zacharias AL, Gage PJ, Fuhrmann S, West-Mays JA (2010) Hum Mol Genet 19(9): 1791-804
    › Primary publication · 20150232 (PubMed) · PMC2850623 (PubMed Central)
  10. Beta-catenin controls differentiation of the retinal pigment epithelium in the mouse optic cup by regulating Mitf and Otx2 expression. Westenskow P, Piccolo S, Fuhrmann S (2009) Development 136(15): 2505-10
    › Primary publication · 19553286 (PubMed) · PMC2709060 (PubMed Central)
  11. Wnt signaling in eye organogenesis. Fuhrmann S (2008) Organogenesis 4(2): 60-7
    › Primary publication · 19122781 (PubMed) · PMC2613311 (PubMed Central)
  12. A nonautonomous role for retinal frizzled-5 in regulating hyaloid vitreous vasculature development. Zhang J, Fuhrmann S, Vetter ML (2008) Invest Ophthalmol Vis Sci 49(12): 5561-7
    › Primary publication · 18791178 (PubMed) · PMC2679971 (PubMed Central)
  13. Characterization of a transient TCF/LEF-responsive progenitor population in the embryonic mouse retina. Fuhrmann S, Riesenberg AN, Mathiesen AM, Brown EC, Vetter ML, Brown NL (2009) Invest Ophthalmol Vis Sci 50(1): 432-40
    › Primary publication · 18599572 (PubMed) · PMC2615067 (PubMed Central)
  14. Investigation of Frizzled-5 during embryonic neural development in mouse. Burns CJ, Zhang J, Brown EC, Van Bibber AM, Van Es J, Clevers H, Ishikawa TO, Taketo MM, Vetter ML, Fuhrmann S (2008) Dev Dyn 237(6): 1614-26
    › Primary publication · 18489003 (PubMed) · PMC2562763 (PubMed Central)
  15. Expression of CNTF receptor-alpha in chick violet-sensitive cones with unique morphologic properties. Seydewitz V, Rothermel A, Fuhrmann S, Schneider A, DeGrip WJ, Layer PG, Hofmann HD (2004) Invest Ophthalmol Vis Sci 45(2): 655-61
    › Primary publication · 14744911 (PubMed)
  16. Expression of Frizzled genes in the developing chick eye. Fuhrmann S, Stark MR, Heller S (2003) Gene Expr Patterns 3(5): 659-62
    › Primary publication · 12972002 (PubMed)
  17. Distribution of CNTF receptor alpha protein in the central nervous system of the chick embryo. Fuhrmann S, Grabosch K, Kirsch M, Hofmann HD (2003) J Comp Neurol 461(1): 111-22
    › Primary publication · 12722108 (PubMed)
  18. Extraocular mesenchyme patterns the optic vesicle during early eye development in the embryonic chick. Fuhrmann S, Levine EM, Reh TA (2000) Development 127(21): 4599-609
    › Primary publication · 11023863 (PubMed)
  19. Molecular control of cell diversification in the vertebrate retina. Fuhrmann S, Chow L, Reh TA (2000) Results Probl Cell Differ : 69-91
    › Primary publication · 10929402 (PubMed)
  20. A transient role for ciliary neurotrophic factor in chick photoreceptor development. Fuhrmann S, Heller S, Rohrer H, Hofmann HD (1998) J Neurobiol 37(4): 672-83
    › Primary publication · 9858267 (PubMed)
  21. Differential regulation of ciliary neurotrophic factor receptor-alpha expression in all major neuronal cell classes during development of the chick retina. Fuhrmann S, Kirsch M, Heller S, Rohrer H, Hofmann HD (1998) J Comp Neurol 400(2): 244-54
    › Primary publication · 9766402 (PubMed)
  22. Ciliary neurotrophic factor blocks rod photoreceptor differentiation from postmitotic precursor cells in vitro. Kirsch M, Schulz-Key S, Wiese A, Fuhrmann S, Hofmann H (1998) Cell Tissue Res 291(2): 207-16
    › Primary publication · 9426308 (PubMed)
  23. Use of cell ELISA for the screening of neurotrophic activities on minor cell populations in retinal monolayer cultures. Fuhrmann S, Kirsch M, Wewetzer K, Hofmann HD (1997) J Neurosci Methods 75(2): 199-205
    › Primary publication · 9288653 (PubMed)
  24. CNTF exerts opposite effects on in vitro development of rat and chick photoreceptors. Kirsch M, Fuhrmann S, Wiese A, Hofmann HD (1996) Neuroreport 7(3): 697-700
    › Primary publication · 8733724 (PubMed)
  25. Ciliary neurotrophic factor promotes chick photoreceptor development in vitro. Fuhrmann S, Kirsch M, Hofmann HD (1995) Development 121(8): 2695-706
    › Primary publication · 7671829 (PubMed)