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Understanding the mechanisms that govern organ morphostasis and repair

Project description

Neuromasts as a model to study regeneration mechanisms

Neuromasts are the mechanoreceptive organs that help fishes and amphibians sense mechanical water changes. Neuromasts contain hair cells that are similar to mammalian inner ear cells but are capable of regeneration. Understanding the mechanisms of the development and regeneration of these sensory organs may help treat deafness in humans. The EU-funded TFZN project will establish an in vitro neuromast model to investigate unanswered questions about organogenesis. Researchers will study triggers of cell proliferation during organ regeneration, stop signals of the proliferation process and determinants of organ architecture.


Neuromasts are the sensory organs used by fishes and amphibians to sense water displacement. Neuromasts contain hair cells that are very similar to our own inner ear cells. Unlike mammalian ear cells, bird and fish hair cells regenerate after ablated. Understanding the mechanisms responsible for the development and regeneration of the sensory organs holds the promise of treating deafness in humans. The study of neuromasts is also of advantage for basic science. With its three cell types, and 70 cells total, neuromasts are a relatively simple organ. They provide a good model to investigate unanswered questions about organogenesis: What makes cells proliferate during organ regeneration or development? What signals them to stop after normal organ size and cell number is reached? How is organ architecture – shape, cell placement, orientation– attained? Is it an intrinsic property of the interactions between its components (self-organization) or does it depend on external cues? I will establish a system for the production of neuromast organoids in vitro. This will serve to interrogate the role of self-organization in the process of tissue repair. I will also use a combination of single cell transcriptomics, fluorescence marker imaging, gene editing and pharmacological treatments to collect multidimensional data from cells during neuromast regeneration. The use of unbiased computational techniques derived from machine learning will help us untangle the molecular and cellular players driving cellular organization in this system.



Net EU contribution
€ 162 806,40
Ingolstadter landstrasse 1
85764 Neuherberg

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Bayern Oberbayern München, Landkreis
Activity type
Research Organisations
Other funding
€ 0,00