Karen Mruk, Stanford University
Conference: Society for Neuroscience 2017, Washington DC
Abstract Title: Optical control of neural ablation in zebrafish as a model for secondary injury mechanisms
Abstract: During SCI, the primary injury occurs unexpectedly; therefore, understanding and combating the secondary injury mechanisms that occur after the initial trauma has the most therapeutic potential. However, the self-propagating nature and complexity of SCIs makes it challenging to dissect cellular responses during and after injury. Taking advantage of the transparency of zebrafish larvae, we developed an optogenetic method to induce cellular ablation in zebrafish larvae. This light-inducible system, offers many advantages over traditional injury models. First, transcription is spatiotemporally controlled giving a more reproducible injury. Second, the system is modular, enabling tissue-specific ablation in concert with an assortment of toxins. Third, this method is compatible with tools used in regenerative studies including locomotor assays and calcium imaging permitting real-time visualization of the CNS response to injury and repair. Lastly, this method works with commercially available transgenic zebrafish lines containing UAS transgenes and can be modified for use with other Gal4-compatible species. Combining the ability to control light in both space and time with tissue-specific promoters allows us to create reproducible ablation, thus sparing the surrounding tissue and allowing us to decouple the complex secondary events that occur after injury.