Skilled Reaching Performance in a Model of DYT1 Dystonia – UROP Spring Symposium 2021

Skilled Reaching Performance in a Model of DYT1 Dystonia

Bradley Zousmer


Pronouns: He/Him/His

Research Mentor(s): Daniel Leventhal, Assistant Professor
Research Mentor School/College/Department: Neurology and Biomedical Engineering, Michigan Medicine
Presentation Date: Thursday, April 22, 2021
Session: Session 5 (3pm-3:50pm)
Breakout Room: Room 10
Presenter: 7

Event Link


DYT1 Dystonia is a neurological condition that causes abnormal, sustained twisting postures, resulting from a Delta-E mutation in the torsinA gene. Mice with this genotype have few motor abnormalities, making it difficult to test treatments in this model. However, previous attempts to phenotype these mice used simple motor assays. The project in which I am assisting is the first project aiming to find the relationship between mice with a DYT1 Dystonia mutation and their ability to perform skilled reaching, a demanding task that requires fine motor coordination. To gather results, I am scoring hundreds of videos of mice reaching for pellets on a pedestal to see how the DYT1 genotype impacts a mouse’s ability to reach. In scoring videos, I watch each video numerous times and give it a score 1-10 based on how/if the mouse reaches for and grasps the sugar pellet. I put these results in a spreadsheet, and will analyze them to determine if DYT1 mice are significantly impaired compared to wildtype mice. Because this is a brand new project, there have been no results. I just started scoring videos this week, however, the lab suspects that these will have issues obtaining the pellet This would suggest that they have subtle motor abnormalities that could be used to test therapies. The results of this experiment are important because they can be the first steps in finding treatment for humans with DYT1 Dystonia.

Authors: Brad Zousmer, Daniel Leventhal, Krista Kernodle, William Dauer
Research Method: Laboratory Research

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