Laboratory of Animal Models

Head: Witold Konopka
Deputy Head: Agata Klejman

Staff: Joanna Chilczuk, Paulina Koza, Anna Kiryk, Paweł Boguszewski, Karolina Hajdukiewicz, Ewelina Użarowska, Natalia Chwin, Artur Janusz, Bartosz Zglinicki, Małgorzata Wieteska, Karolina Rojek-Sito, Tomasz Włodarczyk, Andrzej Wieteska

We generate and study animal models, mainly transgenic mice and rats. Our major focus is on testing the impact of genetic manipulations on animal metabolism and behaviour. The facility is a fully equipped state-of-the-art laboratory specialized in the production of genetically modified animals, followed by a complex analysis of such models.

Additionally we provide a core facility service for investigators from the Nencki Institute and other scientific and R&D institutions.

We are equipped with a panel of independent experimental setups:

facility for the production of lentiviral vactors and transgenic rodents – transgenic mice and rats are produced by classical “microinjection” method and by lentiviral approach as well
local genetic modifi cation – in different brain structures, e.g. hippocampus, amygdala, hypothalamus etc. performed by the injection of viral vectors like AAV or lentiviral vectors in the stereotaxic instrument
optogenet experiments in vivo – activation or suppression of the activity of the selected group of neurons (expressing the Rhodopsin family receptors) by the light of different wavelength
long-term metabolic phenotyping – in recording chambers that allow for continous (several weeks) measurements of such parameters as indirect calorimetry, physical activity XYZ, food intake, drinking and body weight
learning and memory – using IntelliCages, in which experiments are done in social groups without influence of the experimenter
instrumental conditioning – experiments like appetitive or aversive conditioning will be performed in the Skinner type cages

Current research activities:
The main aim of research conducted in the Laboratory of Animal Models is to characterize Dicer-dependent RNAs with a special interest in microRNAs in the brain and peripheral tissue such as adipose tissue or liver. We focus on two main aspects:

• the role of microRNAs in the synaptic plasticity of neurons engaged in the formation of memory. In this task we are searching for particular microRNAs regulating translation of BDNF (Brain Derived Neurotrophic Factor). An infl uence of microRNA on BDNF translation, playing a crucial role in enhancing learning and memory in mice has been recently demonstrated (Konopka et al., 2010).

• the role of neuronal and peripheral tissues microRNAs responsible for the development of the obesity syndrome in mice. In this case a special focus will be put on the microRNAs directly regulating protein translation of genes present in the insulin receptor – PI3K – Akt – mTOR signalling pathway. This signal transduction pathway is responsible for regulation of cell metabolism in a response to nutrient availability.

More information:


Selected publications:

Vinnikov I.A., Hajdukiewicz K., Reymann J., Beneke J., Czajkowski R., Roth L.C., Novak M., Roller A., Dörner N., Starkuviene V., Theis F.J., Erfle H., Schütz G., Grinevich V., Konopka W. (2014) Hypothalamic miR-103 protects from hyperphagic obesity in mice. J Neurosci 6;34(32):10659-74.


Czajkowski R., Jayaprakash B., Wiltgen B., Rogerson T., Guzman-Karlsson M.C., Barth A.L., Trachtenberg J.T., Silva A.J. (2014) Encoding and storage of spatial information in the retrosplenial cortex. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A 10;111(23):8661-6.


Kiryk A., Sowodniok K., Kreiner G., Rodriguez-Parkitna J., Sönmez A., Górkiewicz T., Bierhoff H., Wawrzyniak M., Janusz A.K., Liss B., Konopka W., Schütz G., Kaczmarek L., Parlato R. (2013) Impaired rRNA synthesis triggers homeostatic responses in hippocampal neurons. Front Cell Neurosci 11;7:207.


Czajkowski R., Sugar J, Zhang SJ, Couey JJ, Ye J, Witter MP. (2013) Superficially projecting principal neurons in layer V of medial entorhinal cortex in the rat receive excitatory retrosplenial input. J Neurosci 33(40):15779-92.