The electrical activity of neuronal populations at a given moment gives rise to oscillations that reflect the collective behavior of neurons, and the oscillations of field potentials in different frequency bands (from 0.5 to 600 Hz) are used to characterize various cognitive and also pathological states. The involvement of gap junction channels (GJC, composed of protein subunits called connexins-Cxs) in the synchronization of neuronal oscillations has been increasingly demonstrated, highlighting the importance of electrical synapses in shaping the neuronal electrical activity. While most efforts have been dedicated to the understanding of chemical synapses, less is known regarding the the plastic properties of electrical synapses. By using an in vivo model of neuronal activation induced by pilocarpine, our goal is to evaluate Cxs expression in the hippocampus of rats combining real time PCR, Western Blot and immunofluorescence analysis. In vivo electrophysiological recordings combined with pharmacological compounds that act on GJC, and possibly with interference RNA for specific Cxs, will evaluate the contribution of these channels to the synchronization of neuronal oscillations in specific frequency bands. In vitro multi electrode arrays (MEA) recordings will be used to characterize in details the synchronization of extracellular fields in the hippocampus in the proposed neuronal activation mode, as well as to thoroughly describe the participation of GJC in these processes. With this project, we aim to assess the participation of specific Cxs and the particular contribution of GJC in the neuronal oscillations in the hippocamous of rats during and after neuronal activation induced by pilocarpine. This project will have the participation of Dr. Thomas DeMarse (University of Florida) and Dr. Marcelo Reyes (UFABC). All the equipment and reagents required for the achievement of the project were granted by the program Jovem Pesquisador FAPESP (2008/55210-1) or acquired by UFABC.
News published in Agência FAPESP Newsletter about the scholarship: