2011 Student Research Conference:
24th Annual Student Research Conference

Molecular Substrates of Dopaminergic Cell Fate in Teleost Fishes
Emily Fassi
Dr. Hans A. Hofmann (The University of Texas at Austin) and Prof. Brenda Moore, Faculty Mentors

All animals must evaluate the salience of environmental stimuli in order to give appropriate behavioral responses. In humans and other mammals, the ventral tegmental area (VTA) of the brain consists of dopaminergic neurons which play an important role in mediating behavior. The objective of this study was to use tyrosine hydroxylase immunohistochemistry in order to further test the hypothesis that the posterior tuberculum (PT) in the fish diencephalon is functionally equivalent (and possibly homologous) to the VTA in the mammalian midbrain. Providing molecular evidence of a homology between the fish PT and the mammalian VTA is important in order to successfully use fish as a model system to study the dopaminergic reward circuitry in social communities. Dopamine-containing cells in the developing diencephalon of zebrafish embryos were visualized using confocal microscopy. A foundation has been established that will allow for an investigation of important genes involved in the development of dopaminergic systems.

Keywords: dopamine, neuron, homology, immunohistochemistry, posterior tuberculum, ventral tegmental area, substantia nigra, zebrafish


Presentation Type: Poster

Session: 3-3
Location: Georgian Room - SUB
Time: 4:30

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