Killam Seminar Series: Probing the Dysfunctional Noradrenergic System During Delayed Motor Learning in the 16p11.2 Deletion Mouse Model of Autism
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Associate Professor, Canada Research Chair Tier II, Department of Cellular and Molecular Medicine, University of Ottawa
Host: Yang Zhou
Abstract: Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) is composed of a set of neurodevelopmental syndromes. In particular, motor skill dysfunctions have also been reported in many ASD patients as they often present a delay in motor skill development during childhood. These motor deficits could frustrate patients with ASD and interfere heavily with their everyday routines and social interactions. Therefore, a more detailed understanding of the mechanisms underlying motor dysfunctions in ASD is necessary for developing potential therapies.
In the case of 16p11.2 deletion, a common copy number variation (CNV) associated with ASD, more than 70% of the carriers have abnormal speech control and motor learning-related deficits during childhood. In this talk, I will present our results showing that the 16p11.2 deletion mouse model of autism exhibits a delayed motor learning phenotype, which is caused by a reduction in locus coeruleus noradrenaline (LC-NA) activity. Furthermore, by using pharmacogenetic approach to selectively activate LC-NA neurons, the delayed motor learning phenotype was rescued. Lastly, I will show some of our preliminary findings that employ chronic in vivo two-photon NA-sensor and Ca2+ imaging in behaving 16p11.2 deletion mice to probe the dynamics and contributions of NA in M1 during motor learning. The findings will help us to further understand ASD-related motor performance impairments down to the level of individual receptors and aid in the development of earlier interventions, diagnoses, and treatments.
Bio: Simon completed his BSc in Cell Biology at the University of British Columbia (UBC). He continued his Ph.D. at UBC in Dr. Kurt Haas' lab, where he learned in vivo two-photon imaging and studied how synapse formation and neuronal activity direct the plasticity of functional neuronal networks in the developing brain of Xenopus tadpoles. He then moved to San Diego, where he did his postdoctoral research in Dr. Takaki Komiyama's lab. He acquired expertise in two-photon in vivo imaging in awake and behaving mice during that period. He started his lab at the University of Ottawa in 2016, and he currently holds the Tier II Canada Research Chair position.
Supported by the generosity of the Killam Trusts, the MNI's Killam Seminar Series invites outstanding guest speakers whose research is of interest to the scientific community at the MNI and McGill University.