David Tobin, Zebrafish, and Cryptococcal meningitis
Vallee Young Investigator David Tobin and colleagues at Duke University Medical Center use transparent zebrafish larvae to watch in real time as Cryptococcal meningitis takes over the brain.
The human fungal pathogen Cryptococcus neoformans is capable of infecting a broad range of hosts, from invertebrates like amoebas and nematodes to standard vertebrate models such as mice and rabbits and is estimated to be responsible for more than 600,000 deaths worldwide annually. Tobin and his colleagues have taken advantage of a zebrafish model to investigate host-pathogen interactions of Cryptococcus with the zebrafish innate immune system, which shares a highly conserved framework with that of mammals. Through live-imaging observations and genetic knockdown, they have established that macrophages are the primary immune cells responsible for responding to and containing acute cryptococcal infections.