The Labonté lab is opening a PhD position for a highly motivated PhD student interested in studying the contribution of cortico-accumbal and cortico-tegmental neuronal circuits in behavioral stress responses in males and females. Our lab already showed that these two neuronal pathways contribute differently to the expression of stress responses in males and females. Our results suggest that the different functional roles of these two neuronal pathways are driven by different gene programs. The aim of this project is to define how these circuit-specific transcriptional programs mediate the behavioral impact of chronic stress by changing the morpho-functional properties of both neuronal circuits in males and females.
To do so, the successful candidate will become familiar with the use of different mouse models of depressive and anxiety-like behaviors including social defeat, chronic variable stress and social isolation paradigms. The candidate will use trans-sectional viral strategies to label cortico-accumbal and tegmental neuronal populations. The sex and pathway-specific behavioral impact of gene programs will be assessed using virally mediated gene transfer with similar trans-sectional viral approaches in transgenic mice. Behavioral studies will be paired with morpho-functional assessments using neuronal reconstruction, electrophysiology and Ca2+ imaging in living animals along with circuit-specific molecular determination using qPCR, western blotting and RNAseq. Of particular interest, our lab owns unique human molecular profiles that provide highly translational findings relevant to clinical populations.