Go smFISH: How to see tiny RNA molecules in an intact brain
One of the common methods we use in the lab is called smFISH. This allows us to locate individual molecules of RNA inside a fly brain without cutting the brain into slices. As about a thousand RNA could fit across the width of a human hair this can be quite challenging. We have optimised the smFISH method to work in the fly nervous system, and this video explains how it works in plain English.
How the brain develops and functions is one of the most important and fundamental questions in biology and medicine. The brain forms from a limited neural stem cells that gives rise to a huge number and diversity of neurons. Once neurons connect up to each other via synapses to form a functional brain, memory and learning occur by modifying these connections through a process known as synaptic plasticity.
Our lab is using flies as a highly tractable model system to understand the molecular basis of these processes. We are investigating how gene expression regulates neural stem cell biology and synaptic plasticity. More specifically, we are focusing on how messenger RNAs, which contain copies of the genetic information stored in DNA, are regulated by their localisation and stability, processes known to be important in neurodegenerative diseases.
For more information on using flies for public engagement and teaching in schools, please click here