Motor neuron regeneration in adult zebrafish

Michell M Reimer, Inga Sörensen, Veronika Kuscha, Rebecca E Frank, Chong Liu, Catherina G Becker, Thomas Becker

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract / Description of output

The mammalian spinal cord does not regenerate motor neurons that are lost as a result of injury or disease. Here we demonstrate that adult zebrafish, which show functional spinal cord regeneration, are capable of motor neuron regeneration. After a spinal lesion, the ventricular zone shows a widespread increase in proliferation, including slowly proliferating olig2-positive (olig2+) ependymo-radial glial progenitor cells. Lineage tracing in olig2:green fluorescent protein transgenic fish indicates that these cells switch from a gliogenic phenotype to motor neuron production. Numbers of undifferentiated small HB9+ and islet-1+ motor neurons, which are double labeled with the proliferation marker 5-bromo-2-deoxyuridine (BrdU), are transiently strongly increased in the lesioned spinal cord. Large differentiated motor neurons, which are lost after a lesion, reappear at 6-8 weeks after lesion, and we detected ChAT+/BrdU+ motor neurons that were covered by contacts immunopositive for the synaptic marker SV2. These observations suggest that, after a lesion, plasticity of olig2+ progenitor cells may allow them to generate motor neurons, some of which exhibit markers for terminal differentiation and integration into the existing adult spinal circuitry.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)8510-6
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of Neuroscience
Issue number34
Publication statusPublished - Aug 2008


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