The morphogenesis of neuronal cells and their organization into functional circuits is a tightly controlled process that follows a series of well-defined steps. Once differentiated and integrated into networks, mature neurons also retain a remarkable capacity to rapidly change the arrangement of their synaptic connections in response to activity, a feature that is believed to critically support cognition as well as our ability to learn and retain information for long periods of time. Accumulating evidence strongly suggests that perturbation of the molecular interactions responsible for the growth of neurons, or the capacity of these cells to adequately respond to activity-dependent signals, contributes to the pathophysiology of different brain disorders such as schizophrenia, intellectual disability, and autism spectrum disorders. Our laboratory aims to elucidate novel effectors and mechanisms that contribute to the development and/or plasticity of neuronal cells. We believe that our basic research into these questions will lead to new insights into the pathogenesis of different brain disorders and potentially help recognize original targets for pharmacological intervention and treatment of these debilitating diseases.
Current areas of research in our laboratory are:
- Regulation and function of Store-Operated Calcium Entry (SOCE) in brain development and disease
- Post-transcriptional and -translational control of neuroplasticity effector Arc/Arg3.1
- Study of the molecular basis of bipolar disorder with patient-derived iPSCs differentiated in neural progenitor cells (NPCs) and neurons
Our laboratory uses a multidisciplinary approach to explore these questions, which includes primary neuron cultures, genetic perturbations, calcium and live-cell imaging, confocal microscopy, gene expression profiling, proteomic techniques, as well as patient-derived models of neurodevelopmental disorders.
The Lalonde Laboratory of Molecular and Cellular Neuroscience is currently funded by NSERC, an NARSAD Young Investigator Award from the Brain & Behavior Research Foundation, as well as start-up funding from the University of Guelph College of Biological Science and the Department of Molecular and Cellular Biology.