Michael J. Barresi

Assistant Professor of Biological Sciences, Smith University

Email: mbarresi@smith.edu
M. Barresi lab Web Site

Ph.D.: Wesleyan University
Postdoctoral Training: University of Massachusetts, Amherst

How Glial Cells Help Wire the Nervous System

My research interests are focused on how glial cells help wire the nervous system in the embryonic zebrafish brain. We discovered that astroglial cells provide a substrate for midline crossing axons in the forebrain. Further investigation will attempt to determine how the cellular identity of these astroglial cells is established, what molecular cues control glial cell positioning in the brain and lastly how these astroglial cells actively participate in axon guidance. In order to address these questions, we use zebrafish as a model system.

Why zebrafish? The zebrafish has recently become a favorite vertebrate model system to many researchers studying neuroscience. Zebrafish can be bred in a small laboratory space and produce hundreds of embryos a day for analysis. Most importantly, zebrafish is the fastest developing vertebrate model system, going from a one-cell embryo to an embryo with a functioning nervous system in less than 24h. Additionally, zebrafish embryos are optically transparent, enabling the observation of single cell movement and tissue formation in living embryos. Experimentally, zebrafish provide the ability to use genetics, classical embryology, molecular biology, physiology and pharmacology to answer our research questions.

Representative publications:

Deschene ER, Barresi MJ. 2009. Tissue targeted embryonic chimeras: zebrafish gastrula cell transplantation. J Vis Exp. (31).

Michael J. Barresi, Steven A. Farber, Lara D. Hutson, David R. Hyde, Jennifer O. Liang, Jacqueline K. Morris. 2008. Zebrafish in the classroom. Zebrafish 5(3): 205-208.

Barresi MJ, Hutson LD, Chien CB, Karlstrom RO. 2005. Hedgehog regulated Slit expression determines commissure and glial cell position in the zebrafish forebrain. Development. 132(16):3643-56.

Sbrogna JL, Barresi MJ, Karlstrom RO. 2003. Multiple roles for Hedgehog signaling in zebrafish pituitary development. Dev Biol. 254(1):19-35.