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Katie Kindt, Ph.D.

Porter Neuroscience Research Center
Building 35A Room 1D-933
35A Convent Drive 1D-933
Bethesda MD 20892
Office: (301) 443-2626

Dr. Kindt received her B.S. in Biochemistry and Molecular Biology from University of Wisconsin, Eau Claire in 2000 and her Ph.D. in Biomedical Science from the University of California, San Diego in 2006. During her graduate work with Bill Schafer, she studied how serotonin and dopamine modulate the development and function of mechanosensitive circuits in C. elegans. Later as a postdoctoral fellow with Teresa Nicolson at the Vollum Institute she studied the functional development of zebrafish sensory hair cells. She used a combination of scanning electron microscopy in vivo calcium imaging to investigate the role of the primary cilium in developing hair cells. Dr. Kindt joined the NIDCD as an investigator in 2013. In 2016 she received a Presidential Early Career Award for Scientists and Engineers, the highest honor bestowed by the U.S. government upon outstanding scientists and engineers beginning their independent careers. Her laboratory utilizes microscopy-based methods to examine function and development of the auditory system in zebrafish .

Cellular signals within discrete compartments generate, shape, and reshape development, and are required for proper physiological function. Unfortunately it is difficult to study complex spatio-temporal signals in vivo. Although powerful, traditional electrophysiological approaches lack the necessary spatial resolution to delineate these processes. To circumvent this limitation, we utilize genetically-encoded indicators that can be localized to different subcellular compartments. Specfically we study how discrete subcellular signals, such as Ca2+ influx and vesicle release in sensory hair cells affect auditory and vestibular development and function. In hair cells, mechanosensitive responses are shaped by distinct sources of Ca2+: mechanosensitive Ca2+ -permeable channels in the hair bundle, voltage-gated Ca2+ channels at the synapse, and Ca2+ storage and release from mitochondria and ER. All of these Ca2+ signals shape vesicle release and ultimately hair-cell function. To examine these complex signals in vivo, we use the zebrafish model system. The zebrafish is an ideal system for optical imaging due to the ease of generating transgenics, and the fact that larvae are born and develop transparently. Furthermore, the imaging of hair cells is further simplified in zebrafish due to the presence of a lateral line system. The lateral line system is composed of clusters of superficial hair cells called neuromasts that are readily visualized and physically stimulated. Using this system we can precisely monitor Ca2+ signals in the hair-cell cytoplasm, hair bundle, presynaptic density, and monitor synaptic vesicle release. We plan to combine in vivo imaging of Ca2+and vesicle fusion, confocal and electron microscopy, genetics, and pharmacology to characterize how discrete signals shape sensory function and development in an intact system.

Staff Image
  • Alisha Beirl, M.S.
    Laboratory Manager

  • Daria Lukasz, B.S.
    Graduate Student

  • Natalie Mosqueda, B.S.
    Post baccalaureate Fellow

  • Jamie Sexton, B.S.
    Charles River Aquatic Specialist

  • Hiu-Tung (Candy) Wong, M.S.
    Graduate Student

  • Qiuxiang Zhang, Ph.D.
    Postdoctoral Fellow

  • 1) Zhang Q, Li S, Wong HC, He XJ, Beirl A, Petralia RS, Wang YX, Kindt KS (2018)
  • Synaptically silent sensory hair cells in zebrafish are recruited after damage
  • Nat Commun, 9(1):1388
  • 2) Ji YR, Jiang, T, Wu, D*, Kindt KS* (2018)
  • Directional selectivity of afferent neurons in zebrafish neuromasts is regulated by Emx2 in presynaptic hair cells
  • Elife, pii: e35796
  • 3) Graydon CW, Manor U, and Kindt KS (2017)
  • In vivo mobility and turnover of Ribeye at zebrafish ribbon synapses
  • Scientific Reports. Sci. Rep. , 7(1), 7467
  • 4) Jiang, T, Kindt KS*, Wu, D* (2017)
  • Transcription factor Emx2 controls stereociliary bundle orientation of sensory hair cells
  • Nathans J, ed. eLife, pii: e23661
  • 5) Sheets L, He X, Olt J, Trapani JG, Schreck M, Marcotti W, Nicolson T, and Kindt KS (2017)
  • Enlargement of ribbons in zebrafish hair cells disrupts presynaptic calcium channel clustering and exocytosis
  • J Neurosci, 2878-16
  • 6) Zhang QX, He XJ, Wong HC, Kindt KS. (2016)
  • Functional calcium imaging in zebrafish lateral-line hair cells
  • Journal:Methods in Cell Biology, 33, 229-252
  • 7) Maeda R*, Kindt KS*, Mo W*, Morgan CP, Erickson T, Zhao H, Clemens-Grisham R, Barr-Gillespie PG, Nicolson T. (2014)
  • Tip-link protein protocadherin 15 interacts with transmembrane channel-like proteins TMC1 and TMC2
  • Proc Natl Acad Sci, 111(35), 12907-12
  • 8) Kindt KS, Finch G, Nicolson T. (2012)
  • Kinocilia mediate mechanosensitivity in developing zebrafish hair cells
  • Dev Cell, 23, 329-41
  • 9) Sheets L, Kindt KS, Nicolson T. (2012)
  • Presynaptic CaV1.3 channels regulate synaptic ribbon size and are required for synaptic maintenance in sensory hair cells
  • J Neurosci, 32, 17273-17286
  • 10) Kindt KS*, Viswanath V*, Macpherson L, Quast K, Hu H, Patapoutian A, Schafer WR. (2007)
  • Caenorhabditis elegans TRPA-1 functions in mechanosensation
  • Nat Neurosci, 10, 568-77
  • 11) Kindt KS, Quast K, Giles A, Hendrey D, Nicastro I, Rankin C, Schafer W. (2007)
  • Dopamine mediates context-dependent modulation of sensory plasticity in C. elegans
  • Neuron, 4, 662-76
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