Assessment of Auditory and Vestibular Function in Cabin1 Knockout Larval Zebrafish

Jacob Exline, “Assessment of Auditory and Vestibular Function in Cabin1 Knockout Larval Zebrafish”
Mentor: Ava Udvadia, Biological Sciences

The auditory and vestibular systems mediate hearing and balance, respectively, and are critical for an organism’s survival. Cabin1, a gene encoding a calcium-dependent transcriptional repressor, is upregulated during development in neural and neural crest-derived tissues, which include the auditory and vestibular systems. Previous work in our lab suggested that reduced expression of the Cabin1 protein leads to diminished auditory and vestibular function in developing zebrafish. In this study, we test the hypothesis that the cabin1 gene is necessary for proper auditory and vestibular development. Four behavioral assays are performed on zebrafish strains possessing targeted gene knockout mutations in the cabin1 gene. Application of light otic vesicle pressure, or ear touch, elicits an auditory escape response. Head and tail touches also elicit escape responses, allowing use to distinguish specific deficits in auditory response from more general deficits in the motor activity of cabin1 mutant fish. While conducting our preliminary studies, we discovered two shortcomings in our approach: (1) the head touch control was found to be unreliable in stimulating an escape response, and (2) an oversight was made pertaining to the lateral line of the fish. The head touch frequently failed to elicit a response even in wild type fish, making it difficult to detect deficits in this behavior. The lateral line is an organ that detects particle motion in water, thus eliciting escape responses as the probe perturbs the water while approaching the fish. Here we report on the optimization of protocols that will be used to further investigate the role of cabin1 in auditory and vestibular function.

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  1. A decent early research activity presented in progress. As a probably first effort it is readable and pleasantly laid out.
    ** Use past tense until it has been published. If you are citing know facts about the system, reference a central source (review, handbook) to differentiate between it and your own work.
    ** Identify the authors positions in the title field. Who is an undergrad? Who is the faculty sponsor? Who did what on multi-authored components? Why are they authors?
    ** Experimental Approach: “were stimulated” (past tense). 1st line: “We used” …. ??What is the “squiggle figure” in the approach (obviously it is contorted fish, but what?). Why did you not use real sound instead of touching the ear? (there can be a reason, but give it)
    ** Response to touch: 3Dpf is run together, acronym not all caps, not defined. Sure I know what it is. “3 DPF …” I would expect to be more correct. Days post-fertilization. But wait, wasn’t it post-hatch?
    ** Results: no actual data that I can see. Not that far along? That’s fine – saying what your hypothesis is (GOOD!!!!) and what you expect to find is fine at the early stage. Problem: You say in “Progress” that ear touch gave no response deficit (n=32). So there are some data there! Not only that, they disprove your hypothesis. Say that. It could be a two-bar graph with 0 and 100%. Do you want larger n to maybe get the data in line with your hypothesis? BAD IDEA.
    ** The genotyping proves that the knockout occurred, but that is it.
    Looks OK. Keep up the good research work and your poster presentations will improve with experience.

  2. Hi Jacob,

    Nice work overall. I agree with the comment before me on labeling the figure in the “Experimental approach” and I’d also add a description on the photo in the Genotyping box. I am not in the Biology field, so I appreciate you defining what Cabin1 is. However, there were some terms I was not familiar with that perhaps could have been explained, such as PCR and 3Dpf to give an example. I hope you continue your research!

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