Date(s) - 07/23/2012
8:00 pm - 9:00 pm
Forbes Lecture: Neurobiology
“Elucidating the Hidden Complexity of Neural Circuits Using Conus Peptides and Constellation Neuropharmacology”
Baldomero M. Olivera, University of Utah; Howard Hughes Medical Institute
July 23, 2012, Speck Auditorium, 8:00 PM
Abstract: In order to link Systems and Molecular Neuroscience more closely together, the molecular and cellular complexity of the nervous system needs to be effectively addressed. The heteromeric nature of tetrameric or pentameric ion channels, their cellular distribution, and their individual functional roles is a formidable barrier to understanding neural circuits. Conus peptides are among the most specifically targeted ligands known for heteromeric ion channels. A “critical mass” of subtype selective Conus peptides has been characterized, so that a concerted, multi-ligand approach for differentiating between ion channels present in different subclasses of neurons present at a given anatomical locus has become feasible. It was demonstrated using Ca imaging that specific types of neurons present as a very minor fraction of a diverse population could nevertheless be comprehensively characterized. This permits a new neuropharmacological platform for investigating neural circuits: instead of using pharmacology targeted to a single molecular target, multiple pharmacological agents can be used to target a specific subclass of neuron. This approach, which we call constellation pharmacology, will be illustrated using the cold-sensitive neurons in dorsal root ganglia as a specific case study.
About the Forbes Lectures:
Since 1959, the special two-part Forbes Lecture has been supported by The Grass Foundation, a private foundation that supports research and education in neuroscience. The lectures are given in honor of pioneering neurobiologist Alexander Forbes. Traditionally, the Forbes lecturer also spends several weeks at the MBL, working alongside the Grass Fellowship Program.