Neurons have a specialized morphology key to their functioning and computational power. Dendrites and synapses structure is not immutable in time but can exhibit morphological plasticity following both a genetic intrinsic program and external cues. To properly operate, neurons must satisfy two morphological requisites: 1) maintenance of the established connections and 2) saving of a certain degree of structural plasticity which allows controlled changes according to stimuli. How neurons achieve the equilibrium between being adaptive structures while still maintaining their overall established morphology is virtually unknown.
Major research interests
• Molecular, epigenetic and transcriptional mechanisms regulating structural maintenance and plasticity.
• Role of the plasma membrane and its lipid composition in neuronal morphology.
• Aberrations of the stability/plasticity balance in the context of known neuro-pathological conditions (i.e. pathological pain, seizures, eye diseases).
• Development of therapeutic agents to prevent and/or counteract neuronal morphological abnormalities associated to different disorders.
Our group uses a multidisciplinary approach including different techniques such as morphometrics, imaging, in vivo delivery of recombinant viral vectors and proteins, gene expression analysis, primary neuronal cultures, molecular and cellular biology, biochemistry.
|Fig. 1: Schematic representation of the diverse neuronal morphological rearrangements in health and disease.|
|Fig. 2: Representative picture of a pyramidal cultured hippocampal neuron with superimposed traces for morphometric analysis.|