2018 New Investigator Grant
Anna Moore, Ph.D. Assistant Professor, Department of Biology, Temple University
Unraveling the Molecular Mechanisms of Neuronal Plasticity
Each neuron in the human brain has the daunting task of producing high-quality (stable) output information while also ensuring flexibility in an ever-changing environment. In order to maintain proper brain function, a neuron works by sensing and adjusting its activity level around an optimal range set point. Following a change in activity, a neuron can modify either the synaptic connections it receives or its intrinsic membrane properties, which shape the action potential output signal. When these processes are disrupted stability cannot be maintained and long-term undesirable neurological consequences ensue. Over the years, significant attention has been given to the importance of synaptic connectivity in proper brain function and disease. However, an emerging feature in several CNS disorders, including autism spectrum disorders, schizophrenia, and epilepsy, is baseline changes in neuronal intrinsic excitability. But how a neuron establishes and maintains its intrinsic excitability – a fundamental feature of all neurons – remains largely unknown. This proposal will use a recently identified activity-dependent gene, Rem2, as a genetic tool to elucidate the intracellular signaling mechanisms that shape the intrinsic excitability of a neuron in both health and disease.