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Institute of Neuroscience Faculty

Judith Eisen
Judith S. Eisen

Professor, Department of Biology
B.S., 1973, Utah State
Ph.D., 1982, Brandeis University

Research Interests
Specification and patterning of neurons and neural crest cells in embryonic zebrafish


The vertebrate nervous system is composed of a large number of neurons with diverse characteristics. My lab is interested in how neuronal diversity is generated during development: how are the correct number of cells specified for specific neuronal fates at particular times and in particular locations? Most of our attention has been focused on a small, early-developing set of individually identified spinal motoneurons and on the neural crest, a transient embryonic cell population that generates a diverse set of derivatives, including the neurons and glia of the peripheral nervous system. We use a combined cellular, molecular and genetic approach to learn the mechanisms underlying cell fate specification. For example, we study the timing of critical events during development of motoneurons and neural crest cells by labeling individual cells and following their development in living embryos and by transplanting individual cells to new locations. We are isolating genes encoding molecules that may regulate motoneuron and neural crest development and testing the roles of the proteins encoded by these genes during motoneuron and neural crest specification and differentiation. We are also isolating mutations that alter motoneuron or neural crest cell fate with the goal of identifying new genes involved in the development of these cells..

Selected Peer-Reviewed Publications

Van Ryswyk L, Simonson L, Eisen JS. (2014) The role of inab in axon morphology of an identified zebrafish motoneuron.  PLoS One.  9:e88631. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0088631. eCollection 2014.  PMC3922942

Simonson LW, Ganz J, Melancon E, Eisen JS. (2013) Characterization of Enteric Neurons in Wild-Type and Mutant Zebrafish Using Semi-Automated Cell Counting and Co-Expression Analysis.  Zebrafish. 10(2):147-53.  PMC3673588.

Seredick SD, Van Ryswyk L, Hutchinson SA, Eisen JS.  (2012) Zebrafish Mnx proteins specify one motoneuron subtype and suppress acquisition of interneuron characteristicsNeural Dev. 7:35.  PMC3570319

Tallafuss, A., Gibson, D., Morcos, P., Li, Y., Seredick, S., Eisen, J., and Washbourne, P. (2012) Turning gene function ON and OFF using sense and antisense photo-morpholinos in zebrafish. Development 139:1691-9.  PMC3317972.

Hale, L. A., Fowler, D. K., and Eisen, J. S. (2011) Netrin signaling break the equivalence between two identified zebrafish motoneurons revealing a new role of intermediate targets. PLoSOne 6: e25841. PMC3189217

Honjo J., Payne L., and Eisen, J. S. (2011) Somatosensory mechanisms in zebrafish lacking dorsal root gangliaJ. Anat. 218:271-6. PMC3058213.

Krull, C. E. and Eisen, J. S. (2010) Mechanisms of growth cone repulsion. F1000 Biology Reports 2:6 (doi:10.3410/B2-6) PMC2919842

Tallafuss, A., Trepman, A., and Eisen J. S. (2009) DeltaA mRNA and protein distribution in the zebrafish nervous system. Dev Dyn. 238(12):3226-3236.  PMC Journal pending.

Eisen JS, Smith JC. (2008) Controlling morpholino experiments: don't stop making antisense. Development 135(10):1735-43. PMCID: PMC2683367.

Honjo, Y., Kniss, J. and Eisen, J.S. (2008) Neuregulin-mediated ErbB3 Signaling is required for formation of zebrafish dorsal root ganglion neurons.  Development, 135, 2615-25.  PMC2756296.

Tallafuss, A. and Eisen, J.S. (2008) The Met receptor tyrosine kinase prevents zebrafish primary motoneurons from expressing an incorrect neurotransmitter.  Neural Develop. 29;3:18.  PMC2542365

Takayama, S., Hostick, U. Haendel, M. Eisen, J., and Darimont, B. (2008) An F-domain introduced by alternative splicing regulates activity of the zebrafish thyroid hormone receptor ∂. Gen Comp Endocrinol. 155:176-89.

Hutchinson, S. A., Cheesman, S. E., Hale, L. A., Boone, J. and Eisen, J. S. (2007) Nkx6 proteins specify one zebrafish primary motoneuron subtype by regulating late islet1 expression. Development 134:1671-77. PMC2586877

Svetic, V., Hollway, G., Elworth, S., Davison, C., Adams, R. J., Eisen, J. S., Ingham, P. W., Currie, P., and Kelsh, R. N. (2007) Sdf1a patterns zebrafish melanophores and links the somite and pigment pattern defects in choker mutants.  Development 134:1011-22

Kuhlman, J. and Eisen, J. S.  (2007) A genetic screen for mutations affecting development and function of the enteric nervous system. Dev. Dyn. 236, 118-27.

Pineda, R. H., Svoboda, K.R., Taylor, A.D., Novak, A. E., Gamse, J.T., Eisen, J.S. and Ribera, A.B. (2006) Knock-down of Nav1.6a sodium channels affects zebrafish motor neuron development. Development 133:3827-2836

Hutchinson, S. A., and Eisen, J. S. (2006) Islet1 and Islet2 have equivalent abilities to promote motoneuron formation and to specify motoneuron subtype identity. Development 133:2137-47.

Tallafuss, A., Hale, L. A., Yan, Y. L., Dudley, L., Eisen, J. S., and Postlethwait, J. H. (2006) Characterization of retinoid-X receptor genes rxra, rxrba, rcrbb and rxrg during zebrafish development. Gene Expr Patterns 6:556-65

Hale, L. A., Tallafuss, A., Yan, Y. L., Dudley, L., Eisen, J. S., and Postlethwait, J. H. (2006) Characterization of the retinoic acid receptor genes raraa, rarab and rarg during zebrafish development. Gene Expr Patterns 6:546-55.

Honjo, Y., and Eisen, J. S. (2005) The role of slow muscle during migration of zebrafish trunk neural crest Development 132:4461-4470.

Lewis, K. E., Bates, J., and Eisen, J. S. (2005) Regulation of iro3 expression in the zebrafish spinal cord. Dev Dyn 232:140-8.

Cornell, R. A. and Eisen, J. S. (2005). Notch in the pathway: the roles of Notch signaling in neural crest development. Semin. Cell Dev. Biol. 16, 663-72.

Cornell, R.A., Yemm, E., Bonde, G., Li, W., d’Alencon, C., Wegman, L., Eisen, J., and Zahs, A. (2004) Touchtone promotes survival of embryonic melanophores in zebrafish. Mec. Dev 121:1365-1376.

Reyes, R., Haendel, M., Grant, D., Melancon, E., and Eisen, J. S. (2004) Slow degeneration of zebrafish Rohon-Beard neurons during programmed cell death. Dev Dyn 229:30-41.

O'Brien, E. K., d'Alencon, C., Bonde, G., Li, W., Schoenebeck, J., Allende, M. L., Gelb, B. D., Yelon, D., Eisen, J. S., and Cornell, R. A. (2004) Transcription factor Ap-2alpha is necessary for development of embryonic melanophores, autonomic neurons and pharyngeal skeleton in zebrafish. Dev Biol 265:246-61.

Lewis, K. E., and Eisen, J. S. (2004) Paraxial mesoderm specifies zebrafish primary motoneuron subtype identity. Development 131:891-902.

Cheesman, S. E., Layden, M. J., Von Ohlen, T., Doe, C. Q., and Eisen, J. S. (2004) Zebrafish and fly Nkx6 proteins have similar CNS expression patterns and regulate motoneuron formation. Development 131:5221-32.

Cheesman, S. E., and Eisen, J. S. (2004) gsh1 demarcates hypothalamus and intermediate spinal cord in zebrafish. Gene Expr Patterns 5:107-12.

Appel B and JS Eisen. (2003) Retinoids run rampant: multiple roles during spinal cord and motor neuron development. Neuron 40:461-4. Review.

Lewis KE and JS Eisen. (2003) From cells to circuits: development of the zebrafish spinal cord. Prog Neurobiol . 69(6):419-49. Review

Wilson SW, Brand M and JS Eisen. (2003) Patterning the zebrafish central nervous system. Results Probl Cell Differ . 40:181-215. Review.

Cornell, R.A. and Eisen, J.S. (2002) Delta/Notch signaling promotes formation of zebrafish neural crest by repressing Neurogenin 1 function. Development 129:2639-2648.

Grunwald, D.J. and J.S. Eisen (2002) Timeline - Headwaters of the zebrafish emergence of a new model vertebrate. Nat. Rev. Genet. 3:717-724.

Morin-Kensicki, E.M., Melançon, E., and Eisen, J.S. (2002) Segmental relationship between somites and vertebral column in zebrafish. Development 129:3851-3860.

Wilson, S.W., M. Brand and J.S Eisen (2002) Patterning the zebrafish central nervous system. Results Probl. Cell Differ. 40:181-215.

Wilson, S.W., M. Brand and J.S Eisen (2002) Patterning the zebrafish central nervous system. In Pattern Formation in Zebrafish, L. Solnica-Krezel, ed. Springer-Verlag.

Morin-Kensicki, E. M., Melancon, E. and Eisen, J. S. (2002). Segmental relationship between somites and vertebral column in zebrafish. Development 129, 3851-60.

Varga, Z. M., Amores, A., Lewis, K. E., Yan, Y. L., Postlethwait, J. H., Eisen, J. S. and Westerfield, M. (2001). Zebrafish smoothened functions in ventral neural tube specification and axon tract formation. Development 128, 3497-3509.

Lewis, K. E. and Eisen, J. S. (2001). Hedgehog signaling is required for primary motoneuron induction in zebrafish. Development 128, 3485-95.

Gray, M., Moens, C. B., Amacher, S. L., Eisen, J. S. and Beattie, C. E. (2001). Zebrafish deadly seven functions in neurogenesis. Dev. Biol. 237, 306-23.

Eisen, J. S. and Melancon, E. (2001). Interactions with identified muscle cells break motoneuron equivalence in embryonic zebrafish. Nat. Neurosci. 4, 1065-70.

Appel, B., Givan, L. A. and Eisen, J. S. (2001). Delta-Notch signaling and lateral inhibition in zebrafish spinal cord development. BMC Dev. Biol. 1, 13.  PMCID: PMC37243.

Kelsh, R. N., Schmid, B. and Eisen, J. S. (2000). Genetic analysis of melanophore development in zebrafish embryos. Dev. Biol. 225, 277-93.

Kelsh, R. N. and Eisen, J. S. (2000). The zebrafish colourless gene regulates development of non-ectomesenchymal neural crest derivatives. Development 127, 515-25.

Kelsh, R. N., Dutton, K., Medlin, J. and Eisen, J. S. (2000). Expression of zebrafish fkd6 in neural crest-derived glia. Mech. Dev. 93, 161-4.

Cornell, R. A. and Eisen, J. S. (2000). Delta signaling mediates segregation of neural crest and spinal sensory neurons from zebrafish lateral neural plate. Development 127, 2873-82.

Beattie, C. E., Melancon, E. and Eisen, J. S. (2000). Mutations in the stumpy gene reveal intermediate targets for zebrafish motor axons. Development 127, 2653-62.

Appel, B., Fritz, A., Westerfield, M. Grunwald, D.J. Eisen, J.S. and Riley, B.B. (1999) Delta-mediated specification of midline cell fates in zebrafish embryos. Curr. Biol. 9, 247-56.

Appel, B. and Eisen, J.S. (1998) Regulation of neuronal specification in the zebrafish spinal cord by Delta function. Development 125, 371-80.

Morin-Kensicki, E.M.and Eisen, J.S. (1997) Sclerotome development and peripheral nervouse system segmentation in embryonic zebrafish. Development 124, 159-67.

Melancon, E., Liu, D.W., Westerfield, M. and Eisen, J.S. (1997) Pathfinding by identified zebrafish motoneurons in the absence of muscle pioneers. J. Neurosci. 17, 7796-804.

Bisgrove, B.W., Raible,D.W., Walter, V., Eisen, J.S. and Grunwald, D.J. (1997) Expression of c-ret in the zebrafish embryo: potential roles in motoneuronal development. J. Neurobiol. 33, 749-68.

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Last Updated 9/19/2014 -