Sanika Ganesh Rose Hills
Transcriptional Changes During Experience-Dependent Plasticity in Somatosensory Cortex
Neuroplasticity describes how the brain learns from experience. A proposed type of plasticity, rapid homeostasis, may be necessary for stabilizing activity on a short-time scale across primary sensory-processing regions of the brain. A class of inhibitory neurons known as parvalbumin (PV) neurons are thought to implement rapid homeostatic plasticity, but the field lacks a mechanistic understanding of exactly how PV neurons may regulate plasticity.
One way in which cells adapt to change is through varying protein expression. For example, recent studies suggest that neuregulins (NRGs) and tyrosine kinase receptors (ErbBs) mediate signaling pathways that are critical to establishing early visual plasticity in PV neurons. I am studying whether the expression of several genes, including genes encoding proteins from the NRG and ErbB families, drive rapid homeostatic plasticity in PV neurons of somatosensory cortex.
I will use TRAP (translating ribosome affinity purification) methodology and RT-qPCR to analyze the RNA content of PV neurons. TRAP tags ribosomes with antibodies to isolate actively-translated mRNA, while RT-qPCR quantifies the expression of gene targets.