Fig1Purkinjecell Fig2myelinatedaxons SJBfmri1


Stephen Wilson

Department of Cell and Developmental Biology

Zebrafish CNS development

In the last 10 years, the zebrafish has become established as the pre-eminent vertebrate model system for using forward genetics to identify novel gene functions. Our research focuses upon the development of the embryonic forebrain ( ). Our aim is to try to understand how neurons acquire their identity and how they connect with each other to form functional circuits. To do this, we use a variety of genetic, molecular and imaging techniques to build up a picture of the cellular and molecular interactions that lead to the development of a functional CNS. Currently, major topics of focus include analysis of left/right differences in the developing brain and the development of the eye. 


Figure 1.   GFP expressing neurons and sensory cells in a fish embryo


Figure 2.  Axon terminals of left and right sided habenular neurons in the interpeduncular nucleus (IPN).


Students potentially interested in working with us can read about the various topics of research in the lab on our website ( ) and are welcome to come to talk with me and/or members of the group. The two major projects in the lab at the moment are focused on the development of lateralized circuits in the forebrain and upon the development of the eye. With respect to the development of neural asymmetry, projects could be focused upon the identification and characterization of signals required to break symmetry, or in how neurons elaborate asymmetric morphologies and connections. With respect to eye development, projects could focus upon morphogenesis of the eye or upon the generation of different classes of neuron within the retina MORE


Regan, J. Concha, M. Roussigne, M. Russell, C. and Wilson S.W. (2009) An Fgf8-dependent bi-stable cell migratory event establishes CNS asymmetry. Neuron 61 27-34.

Bianco I.H., Carl M, Russell C, Clarke J.D.W. and Wilson S.W. (2008) Brain asymmetry is encoded at the level of axon terminal morphology.  Neural Development. 3 9.

Carl, M., Bianco, I.H., Bajoghli, B., Aghaallaei, N., Czerny, T. and Wilson, S.W. (2007) Wnt/Axin1/ß-catenin signaling regulates asymmetric Nodal activation, elaboration, and concordance of CNS asymmetries. Neuron 55:393-405.

Cavodeassi, F., Carreira-Barbosa, F., Young, R.M., Concha, M.L., Allende, M.L., Houart, C., Tada, M. and Wilson, S.W. (2005) Early stages of zebrafish eye formation require the coordinated activity of Wnt11, Fz5, and the Wnt/_-catenin pathway. Neuron 47, 43-56


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