Motor neuron regeneration in adult zebrafish

Research output: Contribution to journalResearch articleContributedpeer-review


  • Michell M. Reimer - , University of Edinburgh (Author)
  • Inga Sörensen - , Leibniz University Hannover (Author)
  • Veronika Kuscha - , University of Edinburgh (Author)
  • Rebecca E. Frank - , University of Edinburgh (Author)
  • Chong Liu - , University of Edinburgh (Author)
  • Catherina G. Becker - , University of Edinburgh (Author)
  • Thomas Becker - , University of Edinburgh (Author)


The mammalian spinal cord does not regenerate motor neurons that are lost as a result of injury or disease. Here we demonstrate that adult zebrafish, which show functional spinal cord regeneration, are capable of motor neuron regeneration. After a spinal lesion, the ventricular zone shows a widespread increase in proliferation, including slowly proliferating olig2-positive (olig2+) ependymo-radial glial progenitor cells. Lineage tracing in olig2:green fluorescent protein transgenic fish indicates that these cells switch from a gliogenic phenotype to motor neuron production. Numbers of undifferentiated small HB9+ and islet-1+ motor neurons, which are double labeled with the proliferation marker 5-bromo-2-deoxyuridine (BrdU), are transiently strongly increased in the lesioned spinal cord. Large differentiated motor neurons, which are lost after a lesion, reappear at 6-8 weeks after lesion, and we detected ChAT+/BrdU+ motor neurons that were covered by contacts immunopositive for the synaptic marker SV2. These observations suggest that, after a lesion, plasticity of olig2 + progenitor cells may allow them to generate motor neurons, some of which exhibit markers for terminal differentiation and integration into the existing adult spinal circuitry.


Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)8510-8516
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of Neuroscience
Issue number34
Publication statusPublished - 20 Aug 2008
Externally publishedYes

External IDs

PubMed 18716209


ASJC Scopus subject areas


  • Adult neurogenesis, BrdU, Endogenous stem cells, PCNA, Radial glia, SV2