The Laboratory of Animal Models focuses on generation and analysis of animal models. Our main goal is to determine the eﬀects of genetic modiﬁcations on cognitive functions, behavior and metabolism. Current studies are focused on deﬁning activity dependent gene expression in neurons, local synaptic plasticity, microRNA function in neurons and adipose tissue. Ultimately, all introduced genetic manipulation into animals aim to show their inﬂuence on the behavior and metabolism of the whole organism.
PhenoMaster is an animal-friendly apparatus, creating home-like, stress-reduced environment for tested subjects. The system allows for metabolic characterization of a single animal. It is a modular system, consisting of:
• Identity of cell subpopulation in the hypothalamus which is crucial for development of the obesity phenotype following microRNA loss in the forebrain of transgenic mutants (Vinnikov et al., 2014)
• The role of microRNAs in synaptic plasticity of neurons involved in the formation of the memory trace. We are looking for microRNAs involved in the regulation of the PI3K-Akt-mTOR pathway e.g. miR-103/107. We have recently shown that loss of all microRNAs enhances memory formation in mice (Konopka et al., 2010)
• The role of microRNAs in the cells of peripheral tissues involved in metabolism e.g. adipose tissue. We are focusing on investigating microRNAs induced during calorie restriction and their impact on subsequent motivation of animals to food seeking
• The role of CREB/CREM/ATF pathway disruption in adult neurogenesis of the ICER II overexpressing rat model. Disturbed neurogenesis may play a role in behavioral strategies of rats in the Morris Water Maze test
• Altered composition of synaptic proteins in TDP-43 transgenic rat model that shows enhancement in memory processing. TDP-43, a multifunctional RNA processing protein has been recognized as a hallmark of a range of neurodegenerative disorders.