|Undergraduate Institution:||Norfolk State University|
Many diseases that include motor dysfunction are characterized by damage to dopaminergic neurons in certain areas of the brain. Epidemiological studies suggest that environmental causes may exist for some of these conditions, as evidenced by the association between Parkinson’s disease and risk factors common to residents of rural areas and agricultural workers. My goal is to use zebrafish to create a screen that will identify pesticides and other environmental agents that are toxic to the dopaminergic nervous system. To develop this screen of dopaminergic toxicity: 1) baseline behavioral phenotypes of 6-day post-fertilization zebrafish larvae will be defined; 2) behavioral phenotypes after developmental exposure to the prototypic, dopaminergic poisons, 1-methyl-4-phenyl-1,2,3,6-tetrahydropyridine (MPTP) and 6-hydroxydopamine (6-OHDA) will be assessed; and 3) the ability of environmental agents, such as paraquat and rotenone, to produce similar phenotypes will be evaluated. These studies employ a multi-faceted approach that will include several behavioral tests, supported by histological analyses, enzyme activity assays, and expression profiling of the nervous system.