Prof. Dr. Joerg Striessnig [>>]

L-VGCCs in brain areas controlling mood behaviour

University of Innsbruck, Austria

In a multidisciplinary effort several researchers in this department have recently focussed on dissecting the physiological role of different L-VGCC isoforms in a variety of the mammalian brain and other electrically excitable cells. This allowed them to make key contributions to the understanding of L-VGCC function in neurons, pancreatic beta-cells, sensory cells (including cochlear hair cells) and the cardiovascular system. This paved the way for a more extensive research of the differential role of Cav1.2 and Cav1.3 function in the brain and other tissues within the outstanding multidisciplinary expertise of this network. A broad array of methodological techniques and unique research tools is currently available at the department, such as molecular biology (DNA, RNA techniques, gene targeting), heterologous expression of Ca2+ channels in mammalian cells and X. laevis oocytes, electrophysiological techniques (whole cell patch-clamp, two-electrode voltage-clamp), immunocyto/histochemistry, Fos-expression studies (in vivo neuronal activation marker), microperfusion techniques (in vivo neurotransmitter release), rat and mouse behavioural test, radioligand binding, receptor autoradiography and in situ hybridization. This provides an excellent basis for the training of young scientists. However, the proposed network activity and the possibility of student exchange will be exploited to extend and refine the methodological expertise available in Innsbruck. With the help of several network partners (NP04, NP05, NP06, NP10 we will intensify slice electrophysiological techniques to allow recordings in defined neuronal circuits of the available mouse models to reveal the role of Cav1.2 and Cav1.3 for spontaneous neuronal activity as well as for processes of neuronal plasticity such as LTP and LTD. In addition we will exchange methodological expertise in behavioural studies together with NP02 as both laboratories have specialized on different behavioural paradigms. The department is part of a Marie Curie Training Site and actively contributes teaching staff for the graduate programme "Molecular Cell Biology".

The department employs 3 professors, 5 post-docs and currently trains 8 graduate students. Modern lab space, state-of-the-art research facilities and an efficient organizational framework within Faculty of Chemistry/ Pharmacy provide the basis for the successful research o f its research groups in the past years. The research groups involved in the proposed project are headed by Professors J. Striessnig and N. Singewald. Both of them have independent funding from national sources. They are supported by A. Koschak, M. Sinnegger-Brauns and S. Sartori, highly competent and experienced researchers. J. Striessnig was elected corresponding member of the Austrian Academy of Sciences in 2004.

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L-type calcium channels in health and