Martha Bagnall, PhD

Assistant Professor, WashU Neuroscience

Neural circuits involved in postural control

The Bagnall lab studies neural circuits involved in postural control, using the zebrafish as a model organism. Our work defines mechanisms of vestibular function as well as the organization and development of spinal circuits. In particular, we are engaged in a collaboration with the Solnica-Krezel lab to investigate later onset of vestibular dysfunction. A signature challenge in neurodegeneration is the difficulty in identifying new gene candidates, given that it is usually prohibitively expensive to carry out genetic screens for later-developing disorders. We have taken advantage of the large-scale genetic screen by the Solnica-Krezel lab to investigate several mutants which develop normal vestibular function initially, but then exhibit profound vestibular deficits in the equivalent of late adolescence or adulthood. Our lab has characterized the onset of abnormal locomotion and orientation in these animals, and we have begun sequencing these mutants with a goal of identifying what proteins or processes go awry. Importantly, in parallel studies we find that the vestibulospinal postural system of fish exhibits high homology to that of mammals, meaning that insights we gain from later onset dysfunction may shed light on vestibular pathologies in mammals as well.

More about the Bagnall lab