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Jennifer Evans
Department of Biomedical Sciences, Marquette University

A time for change: Network-level plasticity in circadian clock function


A long-standing question in regulatory biology is how do cells coordinate with one another in time and space? Addressing this issue is critical for understanding the function of many processes, including the programming of daily rhythms by the suprachiasmatic nucleus (SCN) of the hypothalamus. SCN neurons are daily clock cells that interact with one another through signaling mechanisms that remain poorly understood. To address this important issue, we developed a novel assay that quantifies the strength of SCN interactions as they occur in real time. This coupling assay reveals that the functional role of GABAA signaling in the SCN depends on the state of the network. This novel form of state-dependent signaling reflects  changes in the expression of chloride co-transporters known to regulate electrochemical responses to GABA. Plasticity in GABAA signaling sculpts the dynamic behavior of the SCN network to encode individual experience and influence responses in a changing environment.

Host: Jerome Menet