Sarah C Kucenas


  • BS, Valparaiso University
  • PhD, Saint Louis University
  • Postdoc, Vanderbilt University

Primary Appointment

  • Professor, Biology


Research Interest(s)

The role of glia in the development, maintenance and regeneration of the nervous system

Research Description

The long-term goal of our research program is to elucidate the roles of peripheral and central glia and glial-glial interactions during nervous system development, maintenance and disease/injury. Using Danio rerio (zebrafish) as a model system (and to a lesser extent, mouse), we combine genetic and pharmacological perturbation, single cell manipulation, laser ablation/axotomy and in vivo, time-lapse imaging to directly and continuously observe glial cell origins, behaviors and interactions in an intact vertebrate.

Selected Publications

  • Fontenas L, Welsh T, Piller M, Coughenour P, Gandhi A, Prober D, Kucenas S. The Neuromodulator Adenosine Regulates Oligodendrocyte Migration at Motor Exit Point Transition Zones. Cell reports. 2019;27(1): 115-128.e5. PMID: 30943395 | PMCID: PMC6461400
  • Wang Y, Ali M, Wang Y, Kucenas S, Yu G. DETECTION AND TRACKING OF MIGRATING OLIGODENDROCYTE PROGENITOR CELLS FROM IN VIVO FLUORESCENCE TIME-LAPSE IMAGING DATA. Proceedings. IEEE International Symposium on Biomedical Imaging. 2019;2018 961-964. PMID: 30598726 | PMCID: PMC6310749
  • Fontenas L, Kucenas S. Motor Exit Point (MEP) Glia: Novel Myelinating Glia That Bridge CNS and PNS Myelin. Frontiers in cellular neuroscience. 2018;12 333. PMID: 30356886 | PMCID: PMC6190867
  • Morioka S, Perry J, Raymond M, Medina C, Zhu Y, Zhao L, Serbulea V, Onengut-Gumuscu S, Leitinger N, Kucenas S, Rathmell J, Makowski L, Ravichandran K. Efferocytosis induces a novel SLC program to promote glucose uptake and lactate release. Nature. 2018;563(7733): 714-718. PMID: 30464343 | PMCID: PMC6331005
  • Welsh T, Kucenas S. Purinergic signaling in oligodendrocyte development and function. Journal of neurochemistry. 2018;145(1): 6-18. PMID: 29377124 | PMCID: PMC5937939
  • Fontenas L, Kucenas S. Livin' On The Edge: glia shape nervous system transition zones. Current opinion in neurobiology. 2017;47 44-51. PMID: 28957729 | PMCID: PMC5732850
  • Morris A, Erisir A, Criswell S, Kucenas S. Transmission electron microscopy of zebrafish spinal motor nerve roots. Developmental dynamics : an official publication of the American Association of Anatomists. 2017;246(11): 956-962. PMID: 28598521 | PMCID: PMC5647212
  • Morris A, Lewis G, Kucenas S. Perineurial Glial Plasticity and the Role of TGF-β in the Development of the Blood-Nerve Barrier. The Journal of neuroscience : the official journal of the Society for Neuroscience. 2017;37(18): 4790-4807. PMID: 28389474 | PMCID: PMC5426569
  • Smith C, Wheeler M, Marjoram L, Bagnat M, Deppmann C, Kucenas S. TNFa/TNFR2 signaling is required for glial ensheathment at the dorsal root entry zone. PLoS genetics. 2017;13(4): e1006712. PMID: 28379965 | PMCID: PMC5397050
  • Johnson K, Barragan J, Bashiruddin S, Smith C, Tyrrell C, Parsons M, Doris R, Kucenas S, Downes G, Velez C, Schneider C, Sakai C, Pathak N, Anderson K, Stein R, Devoto S, Mumm J, Barresi M. Gfap-positive radial glial cells are an essential progenitor population for later-born neurons and glia in the zebrafish spinal cord. Glia. 2016;64(7): 1170-89. PMID: 27100776 | PMCID: PMC4918407
  • Smith C, Johnson K, Welsh T, Barresi M, Kucenas S. Radial glia inhibit peripheral glial infiltration into the spinal cord at motor exit point transition zones. Glia. 2016;64(7): 1138-53. PMID: 27029762 | PMCID: PMC4910827
  • Wheeler M, Smith C, Ottolini M, Barker B, Purohit A, Grippo R, Gaykema R, Spano A, Beenhakker M, Kucenas S, Patel M, Deppmann C, Güler A. Genetically targeted magnetic control of the nervous system. Nature neuroscience. 2016;19(5): 756-761. PMID: 26950006 | PMCID: PMC4846560
  • Adventures in wonderland. PLoS genetics. 2015;11(4): e1005086. PMID: 25880320 | PMCID: PMC4399905
  • Perineurial Glia. Cold Spring Harbor perspectives in biology. 2015;7(6). PMID: 25818566
  • Clark J, O'keefe A, Mastracci T, Sussel L, Matise M, Kucenas S. Mammalian Nkx2.2+ perineurial glia are essential for motor nerve development. Developmental dynamics : an official publication of the American Association of Anatomists. 2014;243(9): 1116-29. PMID: 24979729 | PMCID: PMC4180512
  • Lewis G, Kucenas S. Perineurial glia are essential for motor axon regrowth following nerve injury. The Journal of neuroscience : the official journal of the Society for Neuroscience. 2014;34(38): 12762-77. PMID: 25232113 | PMCID: PMC4166161
  • Smith C, Morris A, Welsh T, Kucenas S. Contact-mediated inhibition between oligodendrocyte progenitor cells and motor exit point glia establishes the spinal cord transition zone. PLoS biology. 2014;12(9): e1001961. PMID: 25268888 | PMCID: PMC4181976
  • Binari L, Lewis G, Kucenas S. Perineurial glia require Notch signaling during motor nerve development but not regeneration. The Journal of neuroscience : the official journal of the Society for Neuroscience. 2013;33(10): 4241-52. PMID: 23467342 | PMCID: PMC3668856
  • Lewis G, Kucenas S. Motor nerve transection and time-lapse imaging of glial cell behaviors in live zebrafish. Journal of visualized experiments : JoVE. 2013;. PMID: 23852039
  • Takada N, Kucenas S, Appel B. Sox10 is necessary for oligodendrocyte survival following axon wrapping. Glia. 2010;58(8): 996-1006. PMID: 20229602 | PMCID: PMC3639140
  • Kucenas S, Cox J, Soto F, Lamora A, Voigt M. Ectodermal P2X receptor function plays a pivotal role in craniofacial development of the zebrafish. Purinergic signalling. 2009;5(3): 395-407. PMID: 19529983 | PMCID: PMC2717322
  • Kucenas S, Snell H, Appel B. nkx2.2a promotes specification and differentiation of a myelinating subset of oligodendrocyte lineage cells in zebrafish. Neuron glia biology. 2009;4(2): 71-81. PMID: 19737431 | PMCID: PMC2821284
  • Kucenas S, Wang W, Knapik E, Appel B. A selective glial barrier at motor axon exit points prevents oligodendrocyte migration from the spinal cord. The Journal of neuroscience : the official journal of the Society for Neuroscience. 2009;29(48): 15187-94. PMID: 19955371 | PMCID: PMC2837368
  • Watanabe M, Kucenas S, Bowman T, Ruhlman M, Knuepfer M. Angiotensin II and CRF receptors in the central nucleus of the amygdala mediate hemodynamic response variability to cocaine in conscious rats. Brain research. 2009;1309 53-65. PMID: 19879859 | PMCID: PMC2821715
  • Kucenas S, Takada N, Park H, Woodruff E, Broadie K, Appel B. CNS-derived glia ensheath peripheral nerves and mediate motor root development. Nature neuroscience. 2008;11(2): 143-51. PMID: 18176560 | PMCID: PMC2657597
  • Kucenas S, Soto F, Cox J, Voigt M. Selective labeling of central and peripheral sensory neurons in the developing zebrafish using P2X(3) receptor subunit transgenes. Neuroscience. 2006;138(2): 641-52. PMID: 16413125
  • Cox J, Kucenas S, Voigt M. Molecular characterization and embryonic expression of the family of N-methyl-D-aspartate receptor subunit genes in the zebrafish. Developmental dynamics : an official publication of the American Association of Anatomists. 2005;234(3): 756-66. PMID: 16123982
  • Kucenas S, Li Z, Cox J, Egan T, Voigt M. Molecular characterization of the zebrafish P2X receptor subunit gene family. Neuroscience. 2003;121(4): 935-45. PMID: 14580944