Tatjana Piotrowski, Ph.D.

Associate Professor of Neurobiology and Anatomy

(b. 1968); Diplom (M.A.) 1994, University of Tübingen, Germany; Ph.D. 1998, Max-Planck-Institute for Developmental Biology, Tübingen, Germany; Postdoctoral Fellow 1998-2001, National Institutes of Health.

Email: piotrowski@neuro.utah.edu
Office Phone: 801-587-7638

Visit the Piotrowski Lab web site


Dr. Piotrowski is studying how the sensory lateral line develops in zebrafish by analyzing mutants that affect this process. It consists of hair cells, which functionally and morphologically are very similar to the hair cells of the inner ear of higher vertebrates. In fish, the lateral line and the ear serve to detect vibrational signals (including sounds), which helps the animal to orient itself in the environment. Because of the similarity of structure and function of the hair cells in the ear and lateral line, it is likely that their development is based on similar genetic mechanisms. A key difference between these two sensory systems is that unlike the hair cells of the inner ear, the hair cells of the lateral line system are directly exposed to the environment. This property makes this system well-suited for the study of cell migration, cell proliferation, pattern formation, and for the direct application of functional, and electrophysiological assays.

As yet, hardly anything is known about the molecular mechanisms that underlies the development and function of this system. The sensory organs (neuromasts) and the nerves that innervate them are derived from cranial neurogenic placodes that deposit neuromast primordia as the placodes elongate or migrate. The direction of migration, position and number of neuromasts are inherent properties of the placode. It is not known how the placode åknows where, when and how many neuromasts to deposit and whether neural crest cells play a role in this process. Our research focuses on the elucidation of these mechanisms by isolating the genes responsible for defects in these processes in mutants. We identified 26 mutants with defects in placode migration and patterning of neuromasts, or the function of the sensory organs proper. Tools that we are using to analyze the mutants involve meiotic mapping, transplantation experiments, misexpression studies, establishment of transgenic lines, comparison of gene expression (in situ hybridization) in mutant and wild-type larvae, confocal microscopy and classical embryological methods.

Live imaging of zebrafish neuromasts

zebrafish lateral line

  1. The posterior lateral line placode in a 35 h old live larva stained with Bodipy. The placode drops off neuromast precursors as it migrates posteriorly on the trunk.
  2. Differentiated neuromast with hair bundles in a 4 d old larva.
  3. 5 d old live larva in which the neuromasts are stained with the fluorescent dye Daspei.


Selected Publications

Search Pubmed for Tatjana Piotrowski's lab publications

  • Stephens W. Z., Senecal, M.M., Ngyuen, M.N, and Piotrowski T.  (2010). Loss of adenomatous polyposis coli (apc) results in an expanded ciliary marginal zone in the zebrafish eye. Dev Dyn. 2010 Jul;239(7):2066-77
  • Piotrowski T. (2009). Collective cell migration. Cell Adhesion and Migration. Vol. 3. Issue 4.
  • Piotrowski T. (2009). Book Chapter. Cell Signaling during Lateral Line Development in: The Handbook of Cell Signaling (eds. Ralph Bradshaw and Edward Dennis (Elsevier)).
  • Aman A. and Piotrowski T. (2008). Wnt/b-Catenin and Fgf signaling control collective cell migration by regulating chemokine receptor expression. Dev. Cell. Nov;15(5):749-61. Highlighted in: cellmigrationpathway.org (Nature Publishing Group) and Nature Reviews Cancer 2009. Vol.9 No. 9. Most downloaded research paper in Dev. Cell for the 30 days preceding March 5, 2009. (http://www.cell.com/developmental-cell/mostread).
  • D. Kopinke, J. Sasine, J. Swift, W. Z. Stephens and T. Piotrowski (submitted). Retinoic acid is required for endodermal pouch morphogenesis but not for pharyngeal endoderm specification.
  • K. Grant, D. Raible and T. Piotrowski (2005). Regulation of latent sensory hair cell precursors by glia in the zebrafish lateral line. Neuron, 45, 69-80.
  • Reviewed in: Preview in Neuron, 45, 3-5. L. Goodrich (2005).Hear, hear for the zebrafish.
  • Dispatch in Current Biology, 15, 67-70. T. Whitfield (2005). Precocious phenotypes and planar polarity.
    BioEssays, 27, 488-94.
  • A. Ghysen (2005). The three sided romance of the lateral line: glia love axons love precursors
    love glia.
  • Kelly A. Grant, David W. Raible, and Tatjana Piotrowski (2005). Regulation of latent sensory hair cell precursors by glia in the zebrafish lateral line. Neuron, Vol. 45, 69-80.
  • C.B. Chien and T. Piotrowski. (2002) How the lateral line gets its glia. Trends Neurosci. 25:544.
  • T. Piotrowski and I. B. Dawid. Analysis of accelerated secondary neuromast formation in the zebrafish mutant colourless. (in preparation)
  • T. Piotrowski, S. Rudolph-Geiger, K. Finger and I.B. Dawid. A genetic screen for zebrafish mutants with defects in sensory lateral line development. (in preparation)
  • T. Piotrowski and C. Nüsslein-Volhard (2000) The endomesoderm plays an important role in segmentation of the pharyngeal arches in the zebrafish (Danio rerio). Dev. Biol. 225, 339-356.
  • T. Piotrowski, T. F. Schilling, M. Brand, Y-J. Jiang, C.P. Heisenberg, D. Beuchle, H. Grandel, F.J.M. v. Eeden, M. Furutani-Seiki, M. Granato, P. Haffter, M. Hammerschmidt, D.A. Kane, R. N.Kelsh, M.C. Mullins, J. Odenthal, R.M Warga and C. Nüsslein-Volhard (1996). Jaw and branchial arch mutants in zebrafish II: anterior arches and cartilage differentiation. Development 123, 345-356.
  • T. F. Schilling, T. Piotrowski, H. Grandel, M. Brand, Y.-J. Jiang, C.-P. Heisenberg, D. Beuchle, F. J. M. van Eeden, M. Furutani-Seiki, M. Granato, P. Haffter, M. Hammerschmidt, D. A. Kane, R. N. Kelsh, M. C. Mullins, J. Odenthal, and C. Nüsslein-Volhard (1996). Mutations affecting the development of the jaw and branchial arches I: Gill arches. Development 123, 329-344.
  • P. Bartsch, S. Gemballa and T. Piotrowski (1997) The embryonic development of Polypterus senegalus Cuvier, 1829: its staging with reference to external and skeletal features, behaviour and locomotory habits. Acta Zoologica (Stockholm) 78, No. 4, pp.309-328
  • T. Piotrowski and R.G. Northcutt (1996) The cranial nerves of the Senegal bichir, Polypterus senegalus (Osteichthyes; Actinopterygii, Cladistia). Brain, Behavior and Evolution 47; 55-102.