Institute of Pharmacology and
University of Zurich
Room 17 J 64
Tel. +41 44 635 5926
Fax +41 44 635 6874
synapse formation and plasticity; inhibitory neurotransmission; GABAA
receptors; mutant mice; adult neurogenesis; epilepsy; seizures; inflammation
2 postdocs, 3 PhD students, 1 MD/PhD student, 2 technicians
The major topic of research is the functional organization and plasticity of the GABAergic system, using a multidisciplinary approach ranging from molecular and cell biology to immunoelectron microscopy. In vitro experiments in primary neuronal cultures transfected with plasmids of interest provide a powerful tool to study the molecular mechanisms of synapse formation and plasticity. Our main working hypothesis is that the postsynaptic scaffold formed by gephyrin is a hub integrating multiple signaling cascades to regulate GABAA receptor function and to mediate cross-talk with excitatory synapses. In addition, transgenic mice expressing reported genes in neurons of interest, as well as mutant mice with targeted gene deletions affecting the GABAergic system, are essential to our in vivo experiments and our morphological studies using light and electron microscopy.
As part of the NCCR-Neuro project 1 (Stem cells) our group contributes to a research project aiming at unraveling the role of GABAergic transmission in the regulation of adult neurogenesis. This work is conducted in mice lacking specific GABAA receptor subtypes and uses retro- and lentiviruses for transfecting newborn cells, followed by morphological and functional analysis.
A better understanding of the structure and function of the healthy brain is a major prerequisite for studying the pathophysiology of neurological and psychiatric disorders. Animal models are essential for elucidating cellular and molecular alterations that might contribute to the etiology of brain disorders. To fulfill this aim, we are working with a mouse model of temporal lobe epilepsy that mimics three main aspects of the disease: pattern of neuronal loss and astrogliosis, occurrence of spontaneous recurrent partial seizures, and activation of innate and acquired immunity. Our current focus is the role of acquired and innate immune responses in epileptogenesis and occurrence of recurrent seizures.
Immunohistochemistry: single and multiple labeling studies in tissue sections and cell cultures; immunoelectron microscopy; in situ hybridization histochemistry
Molecular Biology; protein biochemistry; primary neuron culture and transfection by magnetofection
Stereotaxic surgery, intracerebral virus injection, EEG recording
Microscopy and imaging: Confocal laser scanning microscopy and epifluorescence microscopy; live-imaging of cultured neurons; computer-based image analysis and densitometry
Main equipment: Zeiss LSM 710 Zen and LSM 510 Meta confocal laser scanning microscopes; Zeiss Apotome; Leica inverse microscope for live-cell microscopy; image analysis systems (MCID, ImageJ, Imaris); standard equipment for molecular biology, biochemistry, histology and autoradiography, cryostat, microtome, cell culture facilities.
All major protocols used in our laboratory can be downloaded from our website (see link below)
Swiss National Science Foundation, NCCR-Neuro, Hartmann-Müller Foundation, Swiss League against Epilepsy
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