TU Dresden


Patterning and Regeneration of the Vertebrate Brain - Previous and current research

Zebrafish, in striking contrast to mammals, can functionally regenerate complex body structures, including significant portions of the central nervous system. Thus, understanding this regenerative capacity of zebrafish nervous system is of great therapeutic significance to treat neural diseases in humans. We are investigating the genes and the signaling pathways involved in the regeneration of the adult zebrafish central nervous system focusing on the role of neurogenic progenitor cells by using different injury, transcriptional profiling and misexpression methods.

In contrast to mammals, the central nervous system (CNS) of adult zebrafish retains a large number of active neural stem/progenitor cells producing numerous new neurons of different subtypes in discrete spatial domains. Moreover, the adult zebrafish CNS has a spectacular ability to regenerate after severe lesions. Combined with well-developed genetic and molecular biology tools, it therefore provides an ideally tractable system for understanding recruitment of stem cells during normal homeostasis and in the context of regeneration.

Using various CNS lesion paradigms, transgenesis, Cre/loxP technology and next generation sequencing we investigate which genes and pathways regulate adult neural stem cell activity and their ability to repair damage. We also address how the distribution of organizer-associated signalling molecules is propagated in the embryonic and adult CNS controlling the formation and maintenance of compartment boundaries. 

Our studies will provide clues on how CNS regeneration can be stimulated also in mammalian brains and pave the way for stem cell based regenerative therapies against acute as well as chronic brain injury. 

Recently we established a new open access database, the zebrafish CreZoo (, which contains novel CreERT2-driver lines that express CreERT2 in several tissues.