Experimental systems and approaches:

In much of our work we are taking advantage of the powerful genetic tools available for the model organism Drosophila melanogaster (e.g. Izadifar et al. Neuron 2021, Dascenco et al. Cell 2016; Urwyler et al. Science, 2019). However we have also started to extend our studies to the analysis of neural circuit formation in vertebrates. We are particularly interested in using the model organism Xenopus tropicalis and combine biochemical, transgenesis, gene/genome engineering, reverse genetics, as well as imaging techniques, for a dissection of neural circuit formation in frogs. Our goal in this endeavor is to conduct comparative developmental studies investigating similarities as well as differences in neuronal wiring mechanisms in insects and vertebrates. Furthermore, collaborative projects, which use mouse genetics and cell lines have complement these studies (Sachse et al. EMBO J., 2019).

Growth cones of mechanosensory neurons (GFP, green) and anti-Slit (red) in the CNS of the fruitfly (image: A. Izadifar).