During the last two decades, the zebafish has become a powerful model organism to study a variety of developmental and pathological processes. The pronephros is the functional kidney of the free-swimming larva and its nephron structure is highly similar to the one in the mammalian metanephric kidney.
Our research focuses on:
Pronephros development and regeneration
Zebrafish offers a wide range of possibilities to manipulate gene expression such as genetic knockouts, fluorescent transgenic reporter lines and gene-specific inhibitors of translation and transcription (morpholino knockdowns). In addition, the young zebrafish embryos are completely transparent allowing imaging of various processes in different organs and tissues. We are taking advantage of these features of zebrafish, combine them with cell culture studies and patient cases data in an attempt to reveal mechanisms underlying human kidney diseases.
Polycystic kidney disease
Polycystic kidney disease is part of various disease syndromes related to changes in ciliary function (ciliopathies). Cilia can be monitored e.g. in the pronephric duct of living larvae or in Kupffer's vesicle, a ciliated organ responsible for establishing left-right asymmetry. In our lab, we are highly interested to identify the function of important candidate genes for these disease processes.
Glomerular diseases - Nephrotic Syndrome
In nephrotic syndrome there is a leak in the glomerular filter barrier that can be mimicked in zebrafish larvae and tested by fluorescent dye injection. On electron microscopy podocyte foot processes are effaced. Candidate genes associated with nephrotic syndrome are investigated in collaboration with other animal model systems.