Research in the Kuwada Lab – The Kuwada Lab

Research in the Kuwada Lab

The Kuwada lab is interested in genes that regulate the development and function of neural circuits and genetic diseases caused by these genes. The lab studies zebrafish and Drosophila since their genomes are readily manipulated with a wide variety of molecular tools. We study the nervous system with electrophysiology, Ca2+ imaging, optogenetics and live imaging of fluorescently labeled proteins. Present projects include the analysis of a small family of novel genes that regulate voltage-dependent Ca2+ channels in muscles and neurons and thus their excitability. We found that one of these genes is responsible for a human congenital muscle disease called Native American myopathy and are using the zebrafish to study how dysfunction of this gene causes the congenital disease. We are also studying the Drosophila version of this gene and found that it is important for signaling by neurons that regulate complex behaviors such as circadian rhythm and locomotion.

Transgenic Zebrafish

Left: Transgenic embryo heat-induced to express Green Fluorescent Protein. Right: A single cell in the nascent inner ear in a transgenic embryo induced to express Green Fluorescent Protein by heating the cell with a laser microbeam.

Imaging Activity in Embryonic Zebrafish Spinal Neurons by Ca2+ Imaging

Ca2+ imaging showing that many spinal neurons are co-active.

Electrophysiological Recordings from Zebrafish Embryonic Neurons

Voltage response of a wildtype and shocked mutant motor neuron to sensory stimulation showing a shortened response in the mutant neuron.

Morphology of Individual Zebrafish Neurons

The branching pattern of motor neurons in the muscles of transgenic embryos that express Green Fluorescent Protein in motor neurons. Red labeling marks the muscle receptors for the neurotransmitter secreted by motor neurons. The pattern of receptors is aberrant as is the pattern of motor branches in the ennui mutant.

Identification of Zebrafish stac3 Gene that Regulates Muscle Function

Human STAC3 Gene is Responsible for the Congenital Muscle Disease, Native American Myopathy

Drosophila stac gene (Dstac) is active in muscles and a subset of neurons and regulates the release of neuropeptides

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