Research Activities: The goal of our research is to understand the molecular mechanisms underlying synapse development, neuronal plasticity and memory formation. We employ a variety of cutting edge technologies, including inducible and regional mouse genetics, confocal imaging, electrophysiological recordings and behavioral analysis, to identify and manipulate various molecules important for these processes. Specifically, we focus on three areas. First, we analyze synaptic proteins, particularly glutamate receptors and associated proteins, in the regulation of excitatory synaptic plasticity, including long-term potentiation (LTP) and depression (LTD), widely studied cellular models for learning and memory. Second, we investigate the structural basis of synaptic plasticity and memory, specifically the formation, morphology and dynamics of the dendritic spine, the predominant structural component of the excitatory inputs. Finally, we are creating various mouse genetic models and use them to probe the biological function of disease linked genes and the underlying pathogenic processes for a number of neurodevelopmental and mental disorders such as autism, schizophrenia and mental retardation. The results from our investigations are expected to uncover the fundamental processes involved in brain development, its normal function and dysfunction, It may also provide potential molecular targets for treating and preventing brain diseases caused by synaptic defects.
Cell and tissue culture: Brain slice, hippocampal cells, neurons.
Procedures: Adenovirus, behavioural tests, EEG, electrophysiology, gene expression analysis, immunohistochemistry, immunocytochemistry, in-vitro electrophysiology, intracellular injection, patch clamp, qRT-PCR, RT-PCR, signal transduction characterization, siRNA, stereotaxic brain surgery, voltage clamp, western blot.
Amplifier, analytical balances, benchtop centrifuge, blotting apparatus, culture hood, culture incubators, cryostat, digidata, dissecting microscope, electrophysiology rig, fresh tissue sectioning systems, gel apparatus, low- and high-speed centrifuge, low and ultralow freezers, micropipette puller, mini vortexer, real-time/thermocycler, setups for electropherosis, stimulator, stirrer/hot plate, vibratome, water baths.
Within the Department of Physiology:
Outside the Department of Physiology:
Wei Xie, Life Science Research Institute, Southeast University, China
Kenichi Okomoto, Molecular Genetic/ U of T
Committee member/Officer of national or international scientific organization:
Committee member: Program in Neuroscience, University of Toronto (2003-2013);
Committee member: Brain and Behavior Day, The Hospital for Sick Children (2004, 2005, 2009, 2010)
Committee member: Brain Center Cross Talk, The Hospital for Sick Children (2007-present)
Panel committee member: CIHR Emerging Team Grant Review Committee (2009, 2011)
Committee member: OMHF Scholarship Review Committee (2015-present)
Associate Editor: BMC Neuroscience (2010-present)
Reviewing Editor: Frontiers in Genetics (2011-present)
Reviewing Editor: Frontiers in Synaptic Neuroscience (2012-present)
Guest Professorship: Southeast University, Nanjing, China (2009-present)
Director: University of Toronto Physiology Undergraduate Research Opportunity Program (UROP) (2010-2012)