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Prof Catherina G Becker

Prof. Becker's biography and research focus, plus details of the Becker Lab

Professor Catherina G Becker

Professor of Neural Development and Regeneration; Deputy Director of the Centre for Discovery Brain Sciences

  • The Chancellor's Building
  • 49 Little France Crescent
  • EH16 4SB

Contact details

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Catherina Becker Nutshell

Personal profile

  • 2017 - present Deputy Director of CDBS
  • 2015 - 2017 CNR Centre Director
  • 2005 - 2015 CNR Director of Postgraduate Training
  • 2005 - Present Senior Lecturer, Deanery of Biomedical Sciences, University of Edinburgh
  • 2000 - 2005 Group Leader, Centre for Molecular Neurobiology Hamburg (ZMNH)
  • 1998 - 2000 Postdoc, Centre for Molecular Neurobiology Hamburg (ZMNH)
  • 1996 - 1998 Postdoc, Dept Dev Cell Biol, University of California, Irvine
  • 1994 - 1996 Postdoc, Swiss Federal Institute of Technology, Zürich
  • 1993 PhD Neurobiology with honours, University of Bremen

Research Theme

Research

The Becker group is pursuing 3 main lines of research.

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  1. We are investigating the cellular and molecular mechanisms underlying successful regeneration of the zebrafish spinal cord, focussing on the activation of spinal-intrinsic progenitor cells by the lesion and lesion induced neurogenesis (Becker and Becker (2015) Neuronal Regeneration from Ependymo-radial Glial Cells: Cook, Little Pot, Cook! Developmental Cell 32(4):516-27), as well as axonal regeneration (Becker and Becker (2014) Axonal Regeneration in Zebrafish. Current Opinion in Neurobiology 27C:186-191).
  2. We are using automated chemical compound screen in zebrafish models of motor neurone diseases, mainly spinal muscular atrophy, to identify targets for therapy. My group a founding member of the SMA UK Research Consortium, funded by the SMA Trust with £1.3m.
  3. We are investigating the molecular factors controlling the development of the spinal locomotor network to identify the fundamental relationship between network and function.
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In summary, my research contributes to a better understanding of the factors governing generation of neurons and axonal pathfinding in the CNS during development and regeneration. I use the zebrafish model to identify fundamental mechanisms in vertebrates with clear translational implications for CNS injury and neurodegenerative diseases.

Funding

Group Members

Collaborations

  • J Douglas Armstrong, Systems Neurobiology Informatics Forum, University of Edinburgh 
  • Tom Gillingwater, University of Edinburgh
  • Leah Herrgen, University of Edinburgh
  • JP Hugnot, Montpellier, France
  • Matthias Kirsch/Ortrud Uckermann, University Hospital Dresden
  • Tilo Kunath, MRC Centre for Regenerative Medicine, Edinburgh
  • David Lyons, Centre for Neuroregeneration, University of Edinburgh
  • Serge Muyldermans, VUB, Brussels
  • Dirk Sieger, Centre for Neuroregeneration, University of Edinburgh
  • Urszula Slaswinska, Warsaw, Poland
  • Kevin Talbot, University of Oxford

Important Reviews

Becker CG, Becker T, Hugnot JP (2018) The spinal ependymal zone as a source of endogenous repair cells across vertebrates, Progress in Neurobiology, in press DOI: 10.1016/j.pneurobio.2018.04.002

Cardozo MJ, Mysiak KS, Becker T, Becker CG (2017) Reduce, Reuse, Recycle - Developmental Signals in Spinal Cord Regeneration. Developmental Biology, DOI:10.1016/j.ydbio.2017.05.011

Becker CG, Becker T (2015) Neuronal regeneration from ependymo-radial glial cells: cook, little pot, cook! Developmental Cell 32 (4), 516-527, DOI: 10.1016/j.devcel.2015.01.001

Becker T, Becker CG (2014) Axonal regeneration in zebrafish, Current Opinion in Neurobiology 27, 186-191 DOI: 10.1016/j.conb.2014.03.019

Selected Publications

Tsarouchas TM, Wehner D, Cavone L, Munir T, Keatinge M, Lambertus M, Underhill A, Barrett T, Kassapis E, Ogryzko N, Feng Y, van Ham TJ, Becker T, Becker CG (2018) Dynamic control of proinflammatory cytokines Il-1β and Tnf-α by macrophages is necessary for functional spinal cord regeneration in zebrafish, BioRxiv DOI: 10.1101/332197 (Nature Communications, under consideration)

Wehner D, Tsarouchas TM, Michael A, Haase C, Weidinger G, Reimer MM, Becker T*, Becker CG* (2017) Wnt signaling controls a pro-regenerative extracellular matrix in functional spinal cord regeneration, Nature Communications 25;8(1):126  DOI: 10.1038/s41467-017-00143-0

Boyd PJ, Tu WY, Shorrock HK, Powis RA, Groen EJN, Thomson SR, Thomson D, Graham LC, Wishart TM, Highley JR, Becker T, Becker CG, Heath PR, Gillingwater TH (2017) Bioenergetic status determines motor neuron vulnerability in spinal muscular atrophy, PLoS Genetics 13(4):e1006744

Ohnmacht J, Yang Y, Maurer GW, Barreiro-Iglesias A, Tsarouchas TM, Wehner D, Sieger D, Becker CG*, Becker T* (2016).  Spinal Motor Neurons are Regenerated after Mechanical Lesion and Genetic Ablation in Larval Zebrafish.  Development 143:1464-1474

Barreiro-Iglesias A, Mysiak KS, Scott AL, Reimer MM, Yang YJ, Becker CG*, Becker T* (2015).  Serotonin Promotes Development and Regeneration of Spinal Motor Neurons in Zebrafish. Cell Reports 13(5):924-32

Wishard TM, Mutsaers CA, Riesland M, Reimer MM, Fuller HR, Hannam ML, Morse R, Young PJ, Lamont DJ, Hammerschmidt M, Morris GE, Parson SH, Skehel PA, Becker T, Robinson IM, Becker CG, Wirth B, Gillingwater TH (2014).  Dysregulation of Ubiquitin Homeostasis and β-catenin Signalling Promote Spinal Muscular Atrophy. Journal of Clinical Investigation 124(4):1821-34.

Sleigh JN, Barreiro-Iglesias A, Oliver PL, Biba A, Becker T, Davies KE, Becker CG, Talbot K. (2013) Chondrolectin affects cell survival and neuronal outgrowth in in vitro and in vivo models of spinal muscular atrophy. Hum Mol Genet 23(4):855-69

Reimer MM, Norris A, Ohnmacht J, Patani R, Zhong Z, Dias TB, Kuscha V, Scott AL, Chen Y, Rozov S, Frazer SL, Wyatt C, Higashijima S, Patton EE, Panula P, Chandran S, Becker T*, Becker CG* (2013) Dopamine signaling from the brain augments spinal motor neuron generation during development and adult regeneration via hedgehog pathway activation, Dev Cell 25(5): 478-491

Zhong Z, Ohnmacht J, Reimer MM, Bach I, Becker T, Becker CG (2012) Chondrolectin mediates growth cone interactions of motor axons with an intermediate target. J Neurosci 32(13):4426-39

Dias TB, Yang YJ, Ogai K, Molist P, Becker T*, Becker CG* (2012) Notch signalling controls generation of motor neurons in the lesioned spinal cord of adult zebrafish. J Neurosci 32(9):3245-52