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.
Click the thumbnail below to open the full sized poster in a new tab.