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The growth of axons and the ability of an axon to find its synaptic partner is an important part of nervous system development. Transmembrane proteins on the surface of neurons are an integral part of forming these connections. A particular family of transmembrane proteins that is involved in nervous system wiring is the Slitrk family. Slitrks have been linked to disorders such as OCD, Tourette’s and other neurological disorders, yet little is known about their cellular function. Zebrafish are convenient vertebrate model organisms to study Slitrks because their nervous system is comparable to the human nervous system. Slitrk1 mRNA was found to be abundant in the developing spinal cord of zebrafish, however little is known about its function in spinal cord wiring. The Slitrk1 protein was studied in 24-hour fish and 5-day-old fish using immunostaining techniques to see if Slitrk1 is present in Rohon Beard sensory neurons. Slitrk1 was detected in Rohon beard cells in zebrafish at 2,3 and 5 days post fertilization and a small amount of Slitrk1 protein was detected in Rohon Beard cells in zebrafish 24 hours post fertilization. This early expression suggests that Slitrk1 plays a role in Rohon Beard axon growth or synapse formation. In the future we plan to look at branching patterns in Rohon Beard neurons to see if Slitrk1 is required for proper Rohon Beard sensory neuron wiring.
Kane, Amanda C., "Investigation of Slitrk1 in Rohon Beard Sensory Neurons in 1 and 5 Day Zebrafish" (2015). Biology Summer Fellows. Paper 17.