This proposal brings together researchers who are interested in neuronal dynamics and those interested in understanding how neural activity depends on gene expression. The unifying theme of the proposal will be to identify and characterise complex, physiological electrical activity of cells and networks, and to understand how such global dynamics are orchestrated at a cellular and molecular level in patterns of gene expression. The project will focus on two tissue types of primary importance in the nervous system: sensory receptors (olfactory and visual) and cortex (hippocampus and neocortex). A central strategy will be to identify and classify specific types of projection neurons, interneurons and sensory neurons, in term of both their electrophysiological behaviour and the profiles of expression of thousands of genes and transcripts. After electrophysiological characterisation of neurons by whole-cell patch-clamp, single cell RT-PCR of the cytoplasm of single cells will be used in conjunction with DNA array analysis.
Using this expression profile data, new cell-specific markers will be identified and used to make transgenic animals with markers such as GFP and PLAP. Cell-sorting techniques will be applied to harvest large numbers of labelled neurons for the most complete expression analysis. The project will apply theoretical concepts and methodologies for statistical and dynamical analysis, to interpret and model the experimental data. In summary, we expect to obtain significant new understanding of: the composition of large neuronal assemblies in terms of cell types; differences and similarities in gene expression among neuronal populations in the adult nervous system; how the global properties of large neuronal assemblies are regulated by the presence of specific neurons; how the electrical properties and transciptome of specific neuron types change during development; possible future application of genomic technology in systems neuroscience.
Fields of science
Call for proposal
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Funding SchemeSTREP - Specific Targeted Research Project