Hormone signal drives motor neuron growth, fish study shows

zebra fishEMC Investigators Catherina Becker and Siddharthan Chandran have led a study that has provided new insight into how motor neurons grow.

Catherina and colleagues have shown in zebrafish that the hormone dopamine, released from the fish’s brain, triggers the development and regeneration of cells in the spinal cord.

Zebrafish are important in motor neuron research, because their motor neurons can regenerate when they become damaged. The Becker lab is trying to understand the mechanisms of this regeneration. This discovery may aid efforts to create neurons from stem cells in the lab, and support further research into MND.

Catherina said: “Our work sheds light on the way in which motor neurons develop and re-generate, and could inform research that leads to an increased understanding of motor neuron disease and spinal cord injuries.”

The work, published in the journal Developmental Cell, involved researchers from the Universities of Edinburgh, Cambridge, Helsinki and the Okazaki Institute for Integrative Biosciences, Japan.

See the publication in Developmental Cell