Too Much ‘Noise’ Can Affect Brain Development

Measuring RA gradients in zebrafish embryos with Phasor-FLIM
share Share

Using cutting-edge imaging technology, biologists at University of California, Irvine have determined that uncontrolled fluctuations (known as “noise”) in the concentration of the vitamin A derivative Retinoic acid (RA) can lead to disruptions in brain organisation during development.

Identifying how a cell responds to a signal made by another cell, despite the level of noise present, may improve our understanding of developmental disorders, according to Thomas F. Schilling, professor of developmental and cell biology.

Dr Schilling and his colleagues, published this study online at eLife.

During development, RA is an important secreted molecule that aids in the proper organisation of the brain. The cellular response to RA depends upon its concentration, which is determined by its production, movement through tissue and interactions with many proteins within the cell. During normal development, cells can filter the “noise” in RA levels and establish appropriate brain organisation. Schilling and study lead author Julian Sosnik wanted to measure the fluctuations in RA and determine how cells respond to the proper amount despite the presence of constant noise.

To accomplish this, they used fluorescence lifetime imaging to exploit the auto-fluorescent nature of RA and measure its distribution across the developing zebrafish embryo. The team found that RA forms a gradient in the embryo, with a lower concentration at the head. They also observed that a large amount of noise exists within the RA gradient.

They identified one protein within developing cells that interacts with RA to help reduce the noise. When this protein was altered, cells could no longer control the level of noise within the RA gradient, which led to disruptions in brain organisation.

With this, the researchers concluded that noise reduction within cells is critical for the proper response to the RA gradient and normal organisation of the brain.

They concluded that future studies will employ new transgenic technologies to examine levels of noise in the expression of genes responding to RA in developing brain cells and address potential beneficial roles for noise in helping switch cells from one type to another in this system.


Source: University of California, Irvine


Journal Reference:

Julian Sosnik, Likun Zheng, Christopher V Rackauckas, Michelle Digman, Enrico Gratton, Qing Nie, Thomas F Schilling. Noise modulation in retinoic acid signaling sharpens segmental boundaries of gene expression in the embryonic zebrafish hindbrain. eLife, 2016; 5 DOI: 10.7554/eLife.14034

«« False-Positive In 1-3 Years Deters Women From Next Mammogram

EU Data Protection Regulation ‘Crucial’ For Future Cancer Research »»

Published on : Mon, 18 Apr 2016

Related Articles
Louise Henderson, PhD, is a UNC Lineberger Comprehensive Cancer Center member and an assistant professor of radiology at the UNC School of Medicine

A false-positive screening for breast cancer may reduce the likelihood of a woman returning for her next planned mammogram... Read more

The image shows 2 mm cubes of lung tissue imaged by microCT. In (A) is normal lung tissue and in (B) is IPF lung tissue. The very fine lung structure seen in the normal lung tissue is destroyed by IPF and replaced by the much thicker scar tissue seen in (

Researchers at the University of Southampton have used advanced 3D X-ray imaging technology to give new insight into the... Read more

Photo: Testing an MRI Magnet at Magnetica. Source:

An increasing prevalence of chronic diseases is driving the development of magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) components,... Read more

Too Much ‘Noise’ Can Affect Brain Development, retinoic acid, vitamin A, imaging Too Much ‘Noise’ Can Affect Brain Development

No comment

Please login to leave a comment...

Highlighted Products