Welcome to the Kucenas Lab


Our lab is generally interested in how the nervous system is assembled and maintained. More specifically, we're investigating the role of glial cells in 1. formation of the nervous system early in development, and 2. nervous system preservation during disease and injury. Keep reading below to learn more!

Formation of a functional nervous system requires the coordinated interactions of several types of cells derived from distinct precursor populations. These cells must often migrate great distances, identify each other and coordinate their differentiation. This ensures that information can be passed between the central nervous system (CNS) and peripheral nervous system (PNS) targets via peripheral nerves. Investigating the cellular and molecular mechanisms that mediate motor nerve formation will provide important insights into the developmental programs that assemble and maintain functional nervous systems.

The long-term goal of the work in the lab is to understand the development of spinal motor nerve components and how cell-cell interactions result in coordinated differentiation, myelination, maintenance and regeneration of nerves. To begin to address these developmental paradigms, we use zebrafish as a model system because it uniquely provides the opportunity to combine in vivo, time-lapse imaging with genetics.

In the future, we are interested in determining the role of perineurial glia in spinal motor nerve maintenance, disease and regeneration. Considerable growth occurs during juvenile stages after motor nerves have been formed and myelinated. Therefore, motor nerves are constantly remodeled. This remodeling, which occurs during a period still tractable for imaging and genetic manipulations, provides an exceptional model for nervous system maintenance. Using genetic ablation coupled with in vivo imaging, we will investigate the role the perineurium plays in spinal motor nerve maintenance and regeneration in juvenile and adult fish.