Building the Brain: Dynamic in vivo Imaging of Synapse Assembly and Function

Session Date: 
Dec 8, 2017
Session Order: 

The human brain consists of an estimated 100 billion neurons and over 100 trillion synapses—there are more neurons in a single human brain than stars in the Milky Way galaxy. The capacity of a neuron to find its correct postsynaptic targets in this complex environment is critical for the formation of the precise circuits which underlie behavior. How neurons find the correct targets and how the correct wiring of the brain influences behavior are fundamental questions in neuroscience. To address them in a genetically tractable system we established WormGUIDES (Global Understanding in Dynamic Embryonic Systems), a novel resource that will result in the creation of the first cell biological atlas of embryogenesis and neurodevelopment for any animal. WormGUIDES will map, in 4D, all nuclear position and neurodevelopmental decisions for every neuron in the nematode, C. elegans, and from zygote until hatching. Foundational to WormGUIDES is a novel paradigm that links cutting edge microscopy, computational biology, developmental genetics, and neuroscience to continuously visualize, identify and image all neurons throughout C. elegans embryonic development. C. elegans is the only animal with a known wiring connectivity map, and the tools created through WormGUIDES will enable examination of how this connectome emerges during development. The impact of WormGUIDES could be transformative, providing a comprehensive resource that will enable examination of currently inaccessible aspects of neurodevelopment, and an understanding of how molecular signals can simultaneously, but precisely, coordinate wiring of neural circuits.

Venue Space: 
Salk Institute - Conrad T. Prebys Auditorium