Wellcome Trust Seed Award to JG Graves Research Fellow in Infection, Immunity and Cardiovascular Disease

Dr Ryan MacDonald, a JG Graves Medical Research Fellow in the Department of Infection, Immunity & Cardiovascular Disease (IICD), has been awarded a Wellcome Trust Seed Award in Science (£99,631).

Ryan’s grant entitled “Cellular and molecular mechanisms of glial patterning and morphogenesis” will combine confocal time-lapse imaging, transcriptomics, cell specific transgenes and CRISPR-based mutagenesis in the zebrafish. Glial cells provide the nervous system with critical trophic, physiological and homeostatic support. To carry out these supportive roles, glial cells must be properly positioned and shaped in the mature nervous system. By pairing confocal time-lapse imaging and cell specific reporter lines in the zebrafish retina he will visualise glial cell dynamics throughout development in real time in vivo (Figure 1). The goal of this work is to characterise the cellular interactions and uncover the molecular pathways regulating glial cell morphogenesis.

Figure 1. a) During retina development, Müller glia (green) start as relatively simple radial cells. As development progresses they rapidly elaborate amongst neurons (red). This elaboration is moulded by specific interactions between neighbouring cells (arrows). b) The mature Müller glia is a highly branched morphologically specialised cell, yet the cellular or molecular mechanisms regulating this transformation are currently unknown.