Dr. Melissa Perreault

Dr. Melissa Perreault
Assistant Professor
Department of Molecular and Cellular Biology
Phone number: 
52013 / 58584
SSC 3446
SSC 3403-4

Citizen of the Métis Nation of Ontario

My passion for scientific research began as an undergraduate project student in the laboratory of Dr. C. David Rollo, an evolutionary biologist at McMaster University who studies evolutionary theory based on integrated life history trade-offs. I remained in his lab for an additional two years and after completing my M.Sc. degree, I was privileged to continue my graduate education under the supervision of Dr. Henry Szechtman in the Department of Psychiatry and Behavioural Neuroscience where my studies focused on opioid-dopamine interactions in obsessive-compulsive disorder. This was my first exposure to an animal model of neuropsychiatric disease and it was during this period that my love for neuroscience research became established. After obtaining my PhD degree in behavioural neuroscience I continued my postdoctoral studies in the laboratory of Dr. Susan George at the University of Toronto, a molecular pharmacologist whose research focuses on the dopamine D1-D2 receptor complex and its role in addiction and schizophrenia. 

During my postdoctoral studies I spent a month in Tuscany, Italy at the Neuroscience School for Advanced Studies where I had the opportunity to meet Dr. Anthony Grace, Distinguished Professor of Neuroscience at the University of Pittsburgh. Prior to arriving at the Department of Molecular and Cellular Biology at the University of Guelph I spent time in Dr. Grace’s laboratory where I learned how to record and analyze neuronal oscillations in awake, freely moving animals. These oscillations, which represent the summed electrical activity from numerous neurons, have emerged as being critical to the neuropathology of a number of CNS diseases.

  • M.Sc. – McMaster University, Biology
  • Ph.D. – McMaster University, Psychiatry and Behavioural Neuroscience
  • Postdoctoral – University of Toronto, Pharmacology and Toxicology

In our laboratory we use multiple advanced techniques to take an integrative approach to research that involves combining cell and systems research with animal behaviour to help us gain insights into the mechanisms of disease, with a particular focus on neuropsychiatric and neurodegenerative disease. At present our primary research focuses are in depression, schizophrenia and Alzheimer’s disease, with a specific interest in understanding the mechanistic processes underlying the cognitive impairments that are associated with these disorders.  To achieve this we use pharmacological, pharmacogenetic and behavioural techniques combined with electrophysiology and computational algorithms to evaluate how neuronal network communication is impaired is these models, and to determine the cell signaling pathways responsible for the network disruption.

  • Theriault RK, Perreault ML. 2019. Hormonal regulation of circuit function: Sex, systems and depression. Biology of Sex Differences, accepted.
  • Albeely AM, Ryan SD, Perreault ML. 2018. Pathogenic Feed-Forward Mechanisms in Alzheimer's and Parkinson's Disease Converge on GSK-3. Brain Plasticity, 4:151-167.
  • Nguyen T, Fan T, George SR, Perreault ML. 2018. Disparate effects of lithium and a GSK-3 inhibitor on neuronal oscillatory activity in prefrontal cortex and hippocampus. Hasbi A, Perreault ML, Shen MYF, Fan T, Nguyen T, Alijaniaram M, Banasikowski TJ, Grace AA, O’Dowd BF, Fletcher PJ, George SR. 2018. Activation of dopamine D1-D2 receptor complex attenuates cocaine reward and reinstatement of cocaine-seeking through inhibition of DARPP-32, ERK and deltaFosB. Frontiers in Pharmacology, 8:924.
  • Hasbi A, Perreault ML, Shen MYF, Fan T, Nguyen T, Alijaniaram M, Banasikowski TJ, Grace AA, O’Dowd BF, Fletcher PJ, George SR. Activation of dopamine D1-D2 receptor complex attenuates cocaine reward and reinstatement of cocaine-seeking through inhibition of DARPP-32, ERK and deltaFosB. Frontiers in Pharmacology, accepted.
  • Perreault ML, Hasbi A, Shen MYF, Fan T, Navarro G, Fletcher PJ, Franco R, Lanciego JL, George SR. 2016. Disruption of a dopamine receptor complex amplifies the actions of cocaine. Eur Neuropsychopharmacol, 26:1366-1377.
  • Shen MYF, Perreault ML, Bambico FR, Jones-Tabah J, Cheung M, Fan T, Nobrega J, George SR. 2015. Rapid anti-depressant and anxiogenic effects following D1-D2 heteromer inactivation. Eur Neuropsychopharmacol, 25:2437-2448.
  • Hasbi A, Perreault ML, Shen MYF, Zhang L, To R, Fan T, Nguyen T, Ji X, O’Dowd BF, George SR. 2014. A peptide targeting an interaction interface disrupts the dopamine D1-D2 receptor heteromer to block signaling and function in vitro and in vivo: effective selective antagonism. Faseb J, 28:4806-4820.
  • Perreault ML, O’Dowd BF, George SR. 2014. Dopamine D1-D2 receptor heteromer regulates signaling cascades involved in addiction: Potential relevance to adolescent drug susceptibility. Developmental Neuroscience, 36: 287-296.
  • Perreault ML, Hasbi A, O’Dowd BF, George SR. 2014. Heteromeric Dopamine Receptor Signaling Complexes: Emerging Neurobiology and Disease Relevance. Neuropsychopharmacology, 39:156-168.
  • Perreault ML, Hasbi A, O’Dowd BF, George SR. 2011. The dopamine D1–D2 receptor heteromer in striatal medium spiny neurons:  Evidence for a third distinct neuronal pathway in basal ganglia. Front Neuroanat 5: 1-8. 
  • Perreault ML, Hasbi A, Alijaniaram M, Fan T, Varghese G, Fletcher PJ, Seeman P, O’Dowd BF, George SR. 2010. The dopamine D1-D2 receptor heteromer localizes in dynorphin/enkephalin neurons: Increased high affinity state following amphetamine and in schizophrenia. J Biol Chem 285:  36625-36634.
  • Hasbi A, Fan T, Alijaniaram M, Nguyen T, Perreault ML, O'Dowd BF, George SR. 2009. Calcium signaling cascade links dopamine D1-D2 receptor heteromer to striatal BDNF production and neuronal growth. PNAS 106:  21377-21382.
  • Perreault ML, Graham D, Bisnaire L, Simms J, Hayton S, Szechtman H.  2006.  Kappa-opioid agonist U69593 potentiates locomotor sensitization to the D2/D3 agonist quinpirole:  pre- and postsynaptic mechanisms. Neuropsychopharmacology  31:1967-1981.
  • Seeman P, Weinshenker D, Quirion R, Srivastava LK, Bhardwaj SK, Grandy DK, Premont RT, Sotnikova TD, Boksa P, El-Ghundi M, O'Dowd BF, George SR, Perreault ML, Männistö PT, Robinson S, Palmiter RD, Tallerico T.  2005.  Dopamine supersensitivity correlates with D2High states, implying many paths to psychosis.  PNAS 102: 3513-3518.

Graduate Students:

  • Abdalla Albeely (PhD)
  • Rachel Karson Thériault (PhD)
  • Duncan Rasmussen (MSc)
  • Myles St-Denis (MSc)
  • Joshua Manduca (MSc)

Co-Supervised with Dr. Tariq Akhtar:

  • Shoshana Buckhalter (MSc)