Neuronal migration during embryonic development is crucial to forming a functional brain. Defects in neuronal migration in humans can cause severe diseases such as lissencephaly. Postmitotic neuronal precursors arise at defined regions in the brain, from where they need to actively move towards their place of terminal differentiation. To find their way through the tissue, the cells depend on environmental cues which they convert into signals for the cytoskeleton to produce motility.
My research investigates the role of neurotransmitters in controlling motility via microtubules using zebrafish cerebellum and hindbrain development as model. Neurotransmitters are perceived by migrating neurons as speed control mechanism. Neurotransmitters modulate intracellular calcium transients as second messenger. These signals are ultimately relayed to the microtubules. A stable microtubule array corresponds to efficient migration, but how the calcium transients shape microtubules is a main focus of our ongoing research. Other questions include the mechanism how microtubules control force generation, and how neurotransmitter-mediated speed control is linked to directionality modulated by guidance factors.
Theisen U, Hennig C, Ring T, Schnabel R, Köster RW: Neurotransmitter-mediated activity spatially controls neuronal migration in the zebrafish cerebellum. PLoS Biol 16(1): e2002226
Fei Z, Bae K, Parent SE, Wan H, Goodwin K, Theisen U, Tanentzapf G and Bruce AE: A cargo model of yolk syncytial nuclear migration during zebrafish epiboly. Development, 146(1): pii: dev169664
Theisen U, Hey S, Hennig C, Schnabel R, Köster RW: Glycine is able to induce both migration speed in- and decreases during zebrafish neuronal migration. Commun Integr Biol, doi.org/10.1080/19420889.2018.1493324.
Russo G, Theisen U, Hust M, Helmsing S, Fahr W, Köster RW, Dübel S: Sequence defined antibodies improve the imaging of Cadherin 2 (N-Cadherin) during Zebrafish development. New Biotechnology, pii: S1871-6784(17)30500-9.
Theisen U, Straube E, Straube A: Directional persistence of migrating cells requires Kif1C-mediated stabilisation of trailing adhesions. Dev Cell 2012; 23: 1153-66