Epigenetic regulation of neuronal regeneration after spinal cord lesion in zebrafish

Lead Research Organisation: University of Edinburgh
Department Name: Biomedical Sciences


In contrast to mammals, zebrafish regenerate spinal neurons after injury (Becker and Becker, 2015).
These new neurons replace lost ones and act as relays to bring about functional recovery. This is never observed in mammals. It is therefore important to determine how gene expression
programmes change in spinal progenitor cells after injury to allow for neurogenesis in zebrafish. In this PhD project in the Becker group (Edinburgh), the student will elucidate the epigenetic
determinants of regenerative neurogenesis. The Becker group have established an efficient larval regeneration paradigm (Wehner et al., 2017) and preliminary observations indicate that epigenetic
histone acetylation levels are altered after a lesion. Low acetylation levels are necessary for proper regeneration of motor neurons.

Based on these functional data the student will use bioinformatics approaches with the MacKenzie group (Aberdeen) to identify target sequences and downstream genes of these alterations of
acetylation (Hay et al., 2017). The importance of downstream genes will then be verified by in vivo perturbation experiments in zebrafish using CRISPR/Cas9 knock out and cell-type specific over- expression using the TetOn system. The student will work with a postdoc Dr Leonardo Cavone,
funded by a new BBSRC project grant (to Thomas Becker, start date 15.10.2017).

With this line of research, we hope to elucidate the intrinsic changes in spinal stem cells necessary for successful spinal cord regeneration. This project will provide targets for manipulations in endogenous
mammalian stem cells, which invariably fail to generate neurons after injury.


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Studentship Projects

Project Reference Relationship Related To Start End Student Name
BB/M010996/1 01/10/2015 30/09/2023
2115991 Studentship BB/M010996/1 01/09/2018 31/08/2022 Louisa Drake