Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

MU Research of Zebrafish Neurons May Lead to Better Understanding of Birth Defects like Spina Bifida

19.02.2014
The zebrafish, a tropical freshwater fish similar to a minnow and native to the southeastern Himalayan region, is well established as a key tool for researchers studying human diseases, including brain disorders.

Using zebrafish, scientists can determine how individual neurons develop, mature and support basic functions like breathing, swallowing and jaw movement. Researchers at the University of Missouri say that learning about neuronal development and maturation in zebrafish could lead to a better understanding of birth defects such as spina bifida in humans.

“We are studying how neurons move to their final destinations,” said Anand Chandrasekhar, professor of biological sciences and a researcher in the Bond Life Sciences Center at MU. “It’s especially critical in the nervous system because these neurons are generating circuits similar to what you might see in computers. If those circuits don’t form properly, and if different types of neurons don’t end up in the right locations, the behavior and survival of the animal will be compromised.”

The scientists studied zebrafish embryos, which are nearly transparent, making internal processes easy to observe. Using modified zebrafish expressing green fluorescent jellyfish protein, Chandrasekhar and his team were able to track neuronal migration.

“This approach is used extensively to visualize a group of cells,” Chandrasekhar said. “In our study, clusters of green cells glowed and indicated where motor neurons were located in the brain. Some groupings are shaped like sausages while others are round, but each cluster of 50 to150 cells sends out signals to different groups of jaw muscles.”

These motor neurons that Chandrasekhar studied are located in the hindbrain, which corresponds to the human brainstem and controls gill and jaw movement in these tiny fish. Genes controlling the development and organization of these neurons in zebrafish are functionally similar to genes in higher vertebrates including mammals.

Chandrasekhar’s work contributes to a better understanding of how neuronal networks are organized and “wired” during development. These studies also may provide insight into birth defects like spina bifida, which affects 1 in every 2,000 births, according to the National Institutes of Health.

“One of the hallmarks of spina bifida is an open neural tube in the spinal cord,” Chandrasekhar said. “The cells closing the neural tube actually know left from right, and front from back, just like the neurons migrating to their appointed places in the zebrafish hindbrain. Additionally, mutations in many genes that result in defective neuronal migration can lead to defects in neural tube closure. We anticipate that understanding the genes and mechanisms controlling neuronal migration in zebrafish will shed light on the mechanisms of human neural tube closure, and why this process goes awry in spina bifida.”

Chandrasekhar’s study, “Structural and temporal requirements of Wnt/PCP protein Vangl2 function for convergence and extension movements and facial branchiomotor neuron migration in zebrafish” was recently published in February 2014 edition of Mechanisms of Development. He also published a related study, “The PCP protein Vangl2 regulates migration of hindbrain motor neurons by acting in floor plate cells, and independently of cilia function,” in the October 2013 edition of Developmental Biology.

Editor’s Note: For another article on this study please visit: “Mind map: Bond LSC research explains how proteins guide migrating neurons.”

Also, Chandrasekhar’s work is featured on the SciXchange blog at: “Fish and free throws.”

Story Contact(s):
Jeff Sossamon, sossamonj@missouri.edu, 573-882-3346
Roger Meissen, MeissenR@missouri.edu, (573) 884-7443

Jeff Sossamon | EurekAlert!
Further information:
http://www.missouri.edu

More articles from Life Sciences:

nachricht Opening the cavity floodgates
23.01.2018 | Albert-Ludwigs-Universität Freiburg im Breisgau

nachricht Incentive to Move
23.01.2018 | Albert-Ludwigs-Universität Freiburg im Breisgau

All articles from Life Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Optical Nanoscope Allows Imaging of Quantum Dots

Physicists have developed a technique based on optical microscopy that can be used to create images of atoms on the nanoscale. In particular, the new method allows the imaging of quantum dots in a semiconductor chip. Together with colleagues from the University of Bochum, scientists from the University of Basel’s Department of Physics and the Swiss Nanoscience Institute reported the findings in the journal Nature Photonics.

Microscopes allow us to see structures that are otherwise invisible to the human eye. However, conventional optical microscopes cannot be used to image...

Im Focus: Artificial agent designs quantum experiments

On the way to an intelligent laboratory, physicists from Innsbruck and Vienna present an artificial agent that autonomously designs quantum experiments. In initial experiments, the system has independently (re)discovered experimental techniques that are nowadays standard in modern quantum optical laboratories. This shows how machines could play a more creative role in research in the future.

We carry smartphones in our pockets, the streets are dotted with semi-autonomous cars, but in the research laboratory experiments are still being designed by...

Im Focus: Scientists decipher key principle behind reaction of metalloenzymes

So-called pre-distorted states accelerate photochemical reactions too

What enables electrons to be transferred swiftly, for example during photosynthesis? An interdisciplinary team of researchers has worked out the details of how...

Im Focus: The first precise measurement of a single molecule's effective charge

For the first time, scientists have precisely measured the effective electrical charge of a single molecule in solution. This fundamental insight of an SNSF Professor could also pave the way for future medical diagnostics.

Electrical charge is one of the key properties that allows molecules to interact. Life itself depends on this phenomenon: many biological processes involve...

Im Focus: Paradigm shift in Paris: Encouraging an holistic view of laser machining

At the JEC World Composite Show in Paris in March 2018, the Fraunhofer Institute for Laser Technology ILT will be focusing on the latest trends and innovations in laser machining of composites. Among other things, researchers at the booth shared with the Aachen Center for Integrative Lightweight Production (AZL) will demonstrate how lasers can be used for joining, structuring, cutting and drilling composite materials.

No other industry has attracted as much public attention to composite materials as the automotive industry, which along with the aerospace industry is a driver...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

10th International Symposium: “Advanced Battery Power – Kraftwerk Batterie” Münster, 10-11 April 2018

08.01.2018 | Event News

See, understand and experience the work of the future

11.12.2017 | Event News

Innovative strategies to tackle parasitic worms

08.12.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

Researchers reveal how microbes cope in phosphorus-deficient tropical soil

23.01.2018 | Earth Sciences

Opening the cavity floodgates

23.01.2018 | Life Sciences

Siberian scientists suggested a new method for synthesizing a promising magnetic material

23.01.2018 | Materials Sciences

VideoLinks Science & Research
Overview of more VideoLinks >>>