New publication for the Esguerra group

In their new study, recently published in the journal Molecular Neurobiology, the Esguerra group establishes a zebrafish model to investigate the function of the CACNA1A gene.

Dr Camilla Esguerra. Photo: Oda Hveem

The CACNA1A gene encodes a major subunit of voltage-gated calcium channels. These channels are present on the surface of certain cell types including neurons and muscle cells, where they play an important role in a variety of cell functions such as neurotransmitter release (for cell-cell communication between cells of the central nervous system).

Mutations in CACNA1A have been described in patients and rodents suffering from 'absence seizures' (short-term loss of consciousness) and a condition called 'ataxia' (lack of voluntary muscle coordination).

The chemical neuroscience group led by Dr Camila Esguerra now reports, for the first time, a zebrafish model where cellular levels of the CACNA1A gene product are substantially reduced (a so-called gene knock-down).

This allowed the group to assess the affect of disrupting the CACNA1A gene in zebrafish, measuring affects on the brains of zebrafish as well as responses to anti-seizure drugs.

A zebrafish larvae stained for levels of CACNA1A. Blue/purple colour shows where the gene is 'switched on', most prominently in the brain of the zebrafish.

The results indicate that the Esguerra group's zebrafish model will provide a valuable resource for studying CACNA1A function and roles in causing seizures - with important implications for human biology.

The article is available in full on the Molecular Neurobiology website.

You can read more about the chemical neuroscience group on the NCMM website. You can also read our researcher profile featuring Dr Esguerra, where she provides more details on her research background and interests. 

Published Jan. 13, 2020 1:52 PM - Last modified Jan. 13, 2020 1:57 PM