2. Behavioral Genetics

Our studies search for the functional, in vivo characterization of novel and previously established candidate genes in anxiety, depression, bipolar disorder and OCD. To this end, we generate rodent models using both transgenic technology and viral technology to manipulate genes in specific neuronal types and/or brain regions. We extensively characterize our rodent models by behavioral phenotyping, biochemical, pharmacological and neurochemical approaches. We complement our approaches with a strong collaborative network to use electrophysiological approaches to understand the impact of altered gene expression at synaptic level.
One of our major targets of current interest is SLC1A1, the gene encoding the neuronal-epithelial glutamate transporter EAAT3. We have generated a conditional EAAT3 ovexpressing mouse in foerbrain, a novel genetic animal model of OCD. See our most recent publication in Neuropsychopharmacology Delgado-Acevedo et al (2018)
We also continue our studies in the 5-HT transporter (SERT) KO mouse, a long well-established animal model of  anxiety-like behavior and prone to develop depressive-like behaviors. Current aims include a) the elucidation of  neural dynamics alterations by using chronic, multi-electrode implants in behaving SERT KO mice; b) how SERT can moderate the benefical impact of voluntary physical activity on cognitive performance, and c) determining specific synaptic alterations in the excitatory-inhibitory balance in cortex and hippocampus, to substantiate some of thealtered phenotypes seen in SERT KO mice.  
 

Some Illustrations from “National Institute of Mental Health, National Institutes of Health, Department of Health and Human Services