ZFIN ID: ZDB-PERS-200824-1
Kojic, Snezana
Email: snezanakojic@imgge.bg.ac.rs
Affiliation: Laboratory for Molecular Biology, IMGGE
Address: Group for Muscle Cellular and Molecular Biology, Laboratory for Molecular Biology, Institute of Molecular Genetics and Genetic Engineering, University of Belgrade Vojvode Stepe 444a, 11042 Belgrade 152
Country: Serbia
Phone: +381113976658;

Group for Muscle Cellular and Molecular Biology investigates different aspects of striated muscle structure and function. Our interest is in molecular mechanisms of heart regeneration, skeletal muscle repair and adaptation of muscle cells to stress. Our research focus is on ANKRD1 and ANKRD2 genes and their roles in these processes.

Our engagement in the field of zebrafish research has been recently acknowledged and awarded by the grant of Serbian Science Fund in a very competitive call (105 out of 917 granted projects).

Project title: Zebrafish ankrd1a as a common player in heart regeneration and skeletal muscle repair - a new prospect for unlocking regenerative potential of human heart - ZEBARR
PI: Snezana Kojic
This research is supported by the SCIENCE FUND of the Republic of Serbia, Grant No 7739807
Project duration 01.01.2022.-31.12.2024.
Project budget 436,543.45 Euro


Heart diseases, and particularly myocardial infarction (MI), are the leading cause of death worldwide due to incapability of the injured human heart to regenerate. In contrast to humans, zebrafish has remarkable ability to regenerate injured heart, while both humans and zebrafish efficiently repair the wounded skeletal muscle. This implies that the key for unlocking endogenous regenerative potential of human heart may be hidden in regeneration-competent skeletal muscle. The ZEBARR project offers novel approach to identify targets that might contribute to restoration of impaired cardiac function by promotion of myocardial regeneration. Since prerequisite for any innovation is to gain a critical mass of fundamental knowledge, ZEBARR ambition is to expand the understanding of cellular and molecular mechanisms involved in heart regeneration and skeletal muscle repair. Based on our preliminary results we select ankrd1a gene, activated in healing of both zebrafish heart and skeletal muscle, as a promising candidate to investigate using novel ZEBARR concept. Function of zebrafish ankrd1a and identification of its downstream targets and associated pathways will be determined in cryoinjured heart and mechanically injured skeletal muscle of ankrd1a mutant. We propose to monitor outcomes of molecular and cellular processes contributing to the heart regeneration and skeletal muscle repair by immunohistochemistry and fluorescent microscopy, analysis of gene expression and transcriptome profiling. Moreover, we aim at addressing the possibility that ankrd1a mediate beneficial effect of exercise on muscle regeneration and repair, further contributing to healing process. We believe the ANKRD1 is an attractive target for translational studies to impact the field of regenerative biology and contribute to efforts directed towards the development of efficient therapies to push human heart to become prone to regeneration.

Boskovic, S., Marin Juez, R., Stamenkovic, N., Radojkovic, D., Yr Stainier, D., Kojic, S. (2021) The stress responsive gene ankrd1a is dynamically regulated during skeletal muscle development and upregulated following cardiac injury in border zone cardiomyocytes in adult zebrafish. Gene. 792:145725
Boskovic, S., MarĂ­n-Juez, R., Jasnic, J., Reischauer, S., El Sammak, H., Kojic, A., Faulkner, G., Radojkovic, D., Stainier, D.Y.R., Kojic, S. (2018) Characterization of zebrafish (Danio rerio) muscle ankyrin repeat proteins reveals their conserved response to endurance exercise. PLoS One. 13:e0204312