AG Entwicklungsbiologie & Zellplastizität

Abbildung 2097456.JPG

Research topics

Developmental biology

Over the last two decades, teleost fish have gained a high profile as suitable model organisms for developmental biology, especially for study of the spatial patterns and causal mechanisms of vertebrate organ formation and cell differentiation. This research has many important implications, extending from the formation of complex structures and functions through individual ontogeny and over evolutionary time to aspects of human disease. Our specific interest is focused on the development and growth of skeletal muscle and its plasticity in response to external factors and interspecific variation. We have identified the fish dermomyotome, a transient structure of the somite that provides most of the muscle precursor cells in the embryo, and have shown how such cells enter the myotome. Recent work demonstrates that the proliferation-differentiation balance of these stem cells is dependent upon environmental factors, with important downstream effects on fish growth in later life. A particular focus has been put on the formation of hypaxial and fin muscles, the fish homologues of terrestrial vertebrate limb, tongue, laryngeal and diaphragma muscles.

Current project: Impact of early thermal experience on coregonid body and muscle growth: How much environment is at play in phenotypic diversification of fish ecotypes? (FWF grant P23739)

Abstract: Coregonids are abundant and economically important food fish in European inland waters. Several lakes are inhabited by sympatric ecotype pairs that belong to a single species but diverge in life style and ultimate size (small and large forms). Such pairs provide well-suited model systems for study of intraspecific phenotypical diversification and its dependence upon ambient factors. One of the most important among these factors is temperature. Recent research has demonstrated that the thermal experience of a teleost embryo is likely to become ´imprinted´ and to have continued effects upon the growth of the body and its dominant tissue, the axial muscle, during the animal’s entire later life. However, it is as yet unknown to which extent thermal imprinting determines these growth features in phenotypically diverging coregonid forms, thus perhaps aiding the segregation of small and large ecotypes. The proposed work will use an ecotype pair of Coregonus lavaretus from a post-glacial lake in Austria (Traunsee) to investigate into this issue at the muscle level until yearling stage. Specifically, the work is intended to establish for the two coregonid forms how thermal experience until hatching affects (i) general body growth and (ii) muscle growth as expressed in cellularity change (hyperplasia and hypertrophy) including (iii) the underlying dynamics of muscle precursor cell proliferation and differentiation. Methods to be used include immunolabelling, in situ hybridization, single fibre analysis and digital planimetry of semithin sections. Results are expected to be of major significance to aspects of both pure and applied developmental biology, ecology and fisheries biology (eg. optimisation of aquaculture procedures and fish yields from stocked populations) and from the evolutionary perspective.

Cell plasticity

It is well known that many vertebrate cell types have a remarkable capacity to adapt to changes in activity and functional demands. In this context, the plasticity of muscle cells is of particular interest due to the fact that physical fitness reduces the risk of many diseases. Our research in this direction aims to understand how exercise training exerts influence on fibre type composition, fibre type specific gene expression, precursor cell activation and muscle cell fine structure. We are also interested in investigating the effects of gene mutations on these variables. In a current project, we study the effects of endurance training on the muscle of humans with single nucleotide polymorphisms in the PGC1α and PPARδ genes. Both genes are important regulators of mitochondrial biogenesis and master regulators of enzymes involved in oxidative phosphorylation. They also play an important role in the pathogenesis of insulin resistance and type 2 diabetes.

Current project: Effect of exercise on skeletal muscle metabolism mediated by PGC-1 α and PPARδ in pre-diabetic males (ÖNB J14156)

Abstract: Endurance exercise is often prescribed to improve cardiorespiratory fitness and metabolic flexibility in subjects predisposed to type 2 diabetes mellitus. Recently, single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) in peroxisome proliferator-activated receptor delta (PPARδ) have been postulated to affect the magnitude of an exercise training on markers of physical fitness, insulin sensitivity and blood lipids, myofibrillar structure, and mitochondrial oxidative capacity. Because only retrospective data are available, we will test the hypothesis that non-diabetic males (45-65 yrs) with vs. without risk alleles differ in the magnitude of the training response after a 10-wks lasting cycling training equalling 1600 kcal/wk. The investigation of mechanisms affecting exercise trainability is important for a more precise tailoring of exercise programs (“exercise is medicine concept”) targeted to improve cardiorespiratory fitness in subjects with normal or impaired glucose regulation.

Another recent project relating to muscle cell plasticity characterises the postmortal change of the mammalian/human muscle tissue. For this purpose, a porcine model is presently employed to assess the morphological and biochemical regularities of muscle degradation patterns. Aim of the project is to introduce muscle analysis as a reliable tool to improve death time determination.

Master- / Doctoral Students

  • Brandauer Magdalena: Influence of incubation temperature on body length and muscle growth in two ecotypes of whitefish, Coregonus lavaretus.
    Supervision: Steinbacher/Stoiber
  • Leitner Isabella: Effects of endurance training on humans with a single nucleotide polymorphism in the PPARδ gene.
    Supervision: Steinbacher
  • Mayr Magdalena: Influence of temperature on the proliferation and differentiation of muscle precursor cells in coregonid fish.
    Supervision: Steinbacher
  • Holper Raphael: Influence of sonic hedgehog on proliferation and differentiation behavior of myogenic stem cells in zebrafish embryos.
    Supervision: Steinbacher
  • Pittner Stefan, MSc.: Postmortem degradation of skeletal muscle to delimitate the time since.
    Supervision: Steinbacher/Monticelli/Sänger
  • Lasser Julia: Evolution of human mate choice.
    Supervision: Steinbacher
  • Schönauer Anna-Lena (co-supervision): Effects of endurance training on humans with a single nucleotide polymorphism in the PGC1α gene.
    Supervision: Sänger/Steinbacher
  • Zissler Angela, MSc. (co-supervision): Effects of ESWT on healthy and pathological muscle tissue.
    Supervision: Sänger/Steinbacher/Lametschwandtner
  • Pfisterer Alexander: Post mortal changes in structure and function of proteases in skeletal muscle.
    Supervision: Steinbacher/Sänger
  • Platzl Christian: Developing a protocol for the detection of Mef2 in the myotomes of zebrafish embryos using immuno-electronmicroscopy.
    Supervision: Steinbacher/Stoiber
  • Bergmann Fiona: The proliferation behaviour of myogenic stem cells in regenerating muscle.
    Supervision: Sänger/Steinbacher
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