Iris Salecker

View all speakers
MRC National Institute for Medical Research
Salecker, Iris

Dr. Iris Salecker is a program leader at the MRC National Institute for Medical Research in London (UK). She received a PhD degree in Neurobiology in 1995, investigating olfactory system development in hemimetabolous insects in the laboratory of Dr. Juergen Boeckh at the University of Regensburg (Germany). For her postdoctoral studies, she joined the group of Dr. S. Lawrence Zipursky at UCLA (USA), where she began to study photoreceptor axon guidance in the visual system of Drosophila.

In 2000, she moved to London to establish her first independent research group as a career-track and subsequently tenured program leader in the Division of Molecular Neurobiology at NIMR. She became part of the EMBO Young Investigator program in 2003, and an EMBO member in 2013. Combining genetic, molecular biology and imaging approaches, her team investigates the mechanisms underlying visual circuit assembly in Drosophila, with a special interest in axon-target and neuron-glia interactions.

ABSTRACT: Flybow, a genetic multicolor cell labeling approach to study neural circuits in Drosophila

Individual neuron subtypes have elaborate axonal and dendritic processes with characteristic shapes, reflective of their specific functions in neural circuits. Techniques that label single neurons within their complex environment are thus highly valuable additions to the neurobiologist’s toolbox. In 2007, Livet et al. developed the mouse Brainbow system, which enables the visualization of cells in multiple colors by the stochastic and combinatorial expression of three spectral variants of fluorescent proteins (FP). The Flybow system, which is based on the Brainbow-2 strategy, adapts this approach for use in Drosophila. It contains distinct features that take advantage of genetic techniques available in this model organism. Flybow transgenes are modular and combine modified DNA sequences from different organisms. These make it possible to induce recombination events and to drive expression of one of four membrane-anchored optimized FPs in any genetically accessible cell population of interest. Moreover, these features render the Flybow approach compatible with loss- and gain-of-function approaches. Using the fly visual system as an example, I will show how Flybow can support anatomical and functional studies of neuronal connectivity. Finally, I will discuss our current efforts in improving and expanding the functionality of our initial transgenes.