Albert-Ludwigs-Universitat-Freiburg (ALU-FR) Germany

Leader: Wolfgang Driever

Brief description of the organisation:
The University of Freiburg has more than 22,000 students and is one of the major research and teaching Universities in Germany. The Faculty of Biology over the past decade has been ranked among the top 10 research faculties in this field in Germany.

Main tasks attributed to the project:
Identification of regulatory transcriptional circuits that control dopaminergic subtype specification.

Previous experience relevant to the tasks:
Prof. Dr. Wolfgang Driever heads the Developmental Biology at University of Freiburg since 1997. He trained at the MPI in Tbingen with C. Nsslein-Volhard, where he demonstrated for the first time quantitative effects of transcription factor concentration on patterning in animal development by elucidating Bicoid morphogen mechanisms. Following training in zebrafish genetics at the University of Oregon (USA), he was Assistant Professor in the Department of Genetics at Harvard Medical School and MGH, Boston (USA). From 2001 - 2006 he initiated and coordinated the building of a new 3000 sqm Centre for Systems Biology (ZBSA - at Freiburg University. His studys pattern formation and dopaminergic differentiation in zebrafish. During genetic screens more than 25 dopaminergic specification genes have been identified, including the recent demonstration (Ryu et al., 2007) that the Otp transcription factor is required for specification of diencephalic dopaminergic neurons in zebrafish as well as mammals. Overexpression of Otp is sufficient to induce ectopic expression of markers of dopaminergic differentiation. Other key personnel Dr. Jörn Schweitzer (Postdoc, male), PhD with M. Schachner (ZMNH, Hamburg): Freiburg since November 2005 working on genetic basis of dopaminergic specification and axonogenesis. Dr. Björn Wenidk (Postdoc, male), Staff member, confocal microscopy, expression analysis Sabine Götter (Technician, female), zebrafish genetics and breeding

Selected recent publications:

  • Ryu S, Mahler J, Acampora D, Holzschuh J, Erhardt S, Omodei D, Simeone A, Driever W (2007), Orthopedia Homeodomain Protein Is Essential For Diencephalic Dopaminergic Neuron Development. Curr Biol 17:873-880.
  • Brockschmidt A, Todt U, Ryu S, Hoischen A, Landwehr C, Birnbaum S, Frenck W, Radlwimmer B, Lichter P, Engels H, Driever W, Kubisch C, Weber RG (2007) Severe mental retardation with breathing abnormalities (Pitt-Hopkins syndrome) is caused by haploinsufficiency of the neuronal bHLH transcription factor TCF4. Hum Mol Genet 16:1488-1494.
  • Mahler J, Driever W (2007) Expression of the zebrafish intermediate neurofilament Nestin in the developing nervous system and in neural proliferation zones at postembryonic stages. BMC Dev Biol 7:89.
  • Ryu S, Holzschuh J, Mahler J, Driever W (2006) Genetic analysis of dopaminergic system development in zebrafish. J Neural Transm Suppl:61-66.
  • Holzschuh J, Hauptmann G, Driever W (2003) Genetic analysis of the roles of Hh, FGF8, and nodal signaling during catecholaminergic system development in the zebrafish brain. J Neurosci 23:5507-5519