TITLE: Dopaminergic control of brainstem locomotor circuits in mice.
PROJECT: The locomotor role of dopaminergic cells is classically attributed to their ascending projections to the basal ganglia that project to the Mesencephalic Locomotor Region (MLR), a brainstem region that controls locomotion. However, descending projections to the MLR were uncovered (Ryczko et al. PNAS 2013, PNAS 2016, J Neurosci 2017, J Neurosci 2020, for review Fougère et al. Curr Opin Physiol 2019). In lamprey, this descending pathway increases locomotor activity. In mammals, the role of such innervation remains to be determined.
The student will address this issue using patch-clamp electrophysiology and optogenetics in brain slices, calcium imaging, viral tracing, in vivo optogenetics and movement analysis in mice. The new knowledge will provide a better understanding of the relation between dopaminergic and locomotor neurons and help identify new clinical strategies to improve locomotor function in Parkinson’s disease.
The candidate must have completed a Master’s degree in neuroscience. The ideal candidate would have experience in patch-clamp electrophysiology, optogenetics or calcium imaging in slices, in vivo optogenetics, virus injections, matlab scripting, and a keen interest in motor control.
Dr. Ryczko has expertise in the neural control of locomotion and published research in excellent journals (PNAS, Science, Journal of Neuroscience…). The lab receives grant support by the CIHR, NSERC, FRQS, CFI and ERC. We are equipped for optogenetics, viral injections, patch-clamp recordings, confocal and two photon calcium imaging, high-resolution movement analysis based on deep learning, and microscopy (confocal, light-sheet, two-photon, STED).