A Zebrafish Model to Study Microglial-Extracellular Matrix Dynamics During Synapse Development

2021 Seed Grant
Anna V. Molofsky, M.D., Ph.D.
University of California San Francisco

Carl & Marilynn Thoma Foundation Seed Grant

The connections between nerve cells- called synapses- are essential for all brain functions, including thinking, behavior, and movement. Impaired development of these synaptic connections can contribute to disorders like autism spectrum disorder (ASD), schizophrenia, and epilepsy. Our group studies a type of brain cell called microglia which are present in the brain but are also a part of the immune system. Microglia can help new synaptic connections to form and can remove synapses that are no longer needed. However, it is not currently possible to observe these processes happening in real time. In this project, we will develop tools and techniques to study microglia, synapses, and the ʻin betweenʼ spaces of the brain in a living animal. We will use zebrafish, a small, transparent fish that develops outside the body, thus can be visualized with a high powered microscope. Using zebrafish embryos, we can watch the brain developing, and directly examine the movements and connections between brain cells in real time. These studies will lead to new discoveries about how the brain’s immune cells promote healthy brain function, and suggest new therapies.

Other Grants

Sarah C. Goetz, Ph.D., Duke University
Uncovering a Novel Role for Primary Cilia in Eph/Ephrin Signaling in Neurons
2022 Seed GrantSarah C. Goetz, Ph.D. Duke University Women’s Council Seed Grant Primary cilia are tiny projections from cells that function like an antenna- they receive and may also send…
Erin M. Gibson, Ph.D., Stanford University
Circadian Regulation of Oligodendroglial Senescence and Metabolomics in Aging
2022 Seed GrantErin M. Gibson, Ph.D.Stanford University The brain consists of two main classes of cells, neurons and glia. Glia make-up more than half of the cells in the brain…
Yvette Fisher, Ph.D., University of California, Berkeley
Dynamic Modulation of Synaptic Plasticity During Spatial Exploration
2022 Seed GrantYvette Fisher, Ph.D.University of California, Berkeley The Virginia (Ginny) & Roger Carlson Seed Grant Cognitive flexibility is critical for appropriately adjusting thoughts and behaviors to meet changing demands…
Byoung Il Bae, Ph.D., University of Connecticut
Unique Vulnerability of Developing Human Cerebral Cortex to Loss of Centrosomal Protein
2022 Seed GrantByoung Il Bae, Ph.D.University of Connecticut Carl & Marilynn Thoma Foundation Seed Grant The cerebral cortex is the largest and outermost part of the human brain. It is…