6. Influence of vestibular signals on the development of body symmetry
In this project we aim to reveal in an animal model the causal relation between asymmetric vestibular functionality and idiopathic scoliosis, a skeletal deformation of the vertebrae that is diagnosed in about 1-4% of young human adolescents. We are using Xenopus frogs as a model organism, which allows surgical interventions and the detailed study of cellular neuronal and muscular plasticity that in a chain of events causes the development of structural deformations of the vertebral column. Thus, the proposed project on the Xenopus model offers the unique possibility to unequivocally link this disorder in humans with a particular sensory deficit and to reveal in detail the cellular mechanisms underlying the formation of this syndrome.