Steven Levison, PhD
Professor of Pharmacology, Physiology & Neuroscience
Director, Laboratory For Regenerative Neurobiology

Thurs, Nov 19 (2.55 PM – 3.15 PM)

Modeling the Effects of Prenatal Infections on Neural Development and Behavior
Epidemiologic studies have demonstrated that maternal immune activation secondary to viral and bacterial infections during the 3rd trimester of pregnancy increases levels of Interleukin-6 (IL-6) that is associated with an increased risk for autism, schizophrenia, cognitive dysfunction, ADHD and depression in their offspring. Therefore, we have injected IL-6 into mouse pups twice daily at a dose of 75 ng per injection to increase IL-6 plasma levels 2 fold. This elicited a small, but significant increase in body temperature but no effect on overall growth. At 3 weeks of age, the IL-6 injected pups showed reduced nose-to-nose and urogenital sniffing. Additionally, IL-6 injected animals exhibited increased self-grooming. At 6 weeks of age, the IL-6 injected mice were less social, as assessed by both social approach and novel social subject tests. IL-6 injected pups also exhibited increased anxiety as assessed using the elevated plus-maze and displayed a higher sensitivity to fear conditioning. At the cellular level, IL-6 stimulated the proliferation of a multi-potential progenitor and decreased the proliferation of two glial restricted progenitors. Fate mapping studies revealed decreased astrogliogenesis and decreased oligodendrogenesis in the frontal lobe.

Mladen Roko Rašin, MD, PhD
Associate Professor of Neuroscience & Cell Biology

Thurs, Nov 19 (3.20 PM – 3.40 PM)

Making Sense of mRNA Landscapes: Translation Control in Neurodevelopment
The spatiotemporal differentiation of neural stem cells (NSC) into distinct neuronal subpopulations is critical for a properly functioning mammalian central nervous system. This intricate differentiation sequence requires precisely timed changes in gene expression (transcription) and ribosome centered protein synthesis (mRNA translation). The regulation of mRNA translation remains understudied in normal brain development, despite it being highly implicated in neurodevelopmental disorders like autism, epilepsy, and microcephaly. We and others have shown that the spatiotemporal specificity in translation of mixed mRNA landscapes is regulated in part by RNA binding proteins (RBPs). In particular, RBPs in the Elav protein family are major regulators of mRNA translation events, ribosome composition and neurodevelopment. However, there are still critical gaps in the field regarding the roles of RBPs in mRNA translation within NSCs and developing neurons. Therefore, the overall goal of our research is to characterize how distinct RBPs determine spatiotemporal translation events in normal and abnormal neurodevelopment. My presentation will focus on the current state and challenges of the field.