Laboratory of Molecular Basis of Behavior

Head: Katarzyna Radwańska

Staff: Kacper Łukasiewicz, Zofia Mijakowska (PhD student), Magdalena Ziółkowska

Research profile:

Memory processes, including memory formation or extinction, are fundamental for brain function and they are affected in various psychiatric illnesses such as post-traumatic stress disorder or addiction. Currently, the molecular basis of memory processes is not sufficiently well understood to develop successful treatments for memory dysfunctions.
Our team is studying molecular basis of memory processes. For our experiments we are using transgenic mice, which allows to combine state-of-the-art molecular and morphological analyses with behavioural studies. In another line of studies we model alcohol addiction in laboratory animals. Toward this end we apply both behavioural analysis of transgenic mice as well as molecular studies of brain regions involved in alcohol addiction.
The long-term aim to our research is to develop insights for treatments for memory dysfunctions in psychiatric illnesses.

Methods:

• State-of-the-art behavioral tests on mice, e.g. fear conditioning, open field, rota-rod, elevated mazes, Porsolt’s forced swim test, place preference
• IntelliCage-based analysis of mice behavior, e.g. alcohol addiction-related behaviors
• Pharmacological approaches to study the molecular basis of behavior
• Immunohistochemistry, fluorescent immunostaining, histology, electron microscopy,
• DiOlistic labelling for morphological analysis of dendritic spines in vivo

Current research activities:

• Do multi-innervated spines store memory? In this project we analyze the molecular mechanisms which regulate formation of multi-innervated spines, a rare type of synapse that is characterized by several presynaptic terminals contacting the same postsynaptic spine. The aim of this project is to understand the role of these synapses in memory formation and storage
• Alpha CaMKII autophosphorylation as a mechanism to regulate alcohol consumption. In this project we use CaMKII-T286A mutant mice to investigate the role of CaMKII autophosphorylation in the regulation of alcohol-induced actin remodeling, alcohol-related behaviours as well as alcohol consumption and preference

Selected recent publications:

Radwańska K., Kaczmarek L. (2012) Characteristics of the alcohol addiction-prone phenotype in mice. Addiction Biology, 17: 601-612.

Radwańska K., Medvedev N.I, Pereira GS., Engmann O., Thiede N., Moraes M.F., Villers A., Irvine E.E., Maunganidze N.S., Pyza E.M., Ris L., Szymańska M., Lipinski M., Kaczmarek L., Stewart M.G., Giese K.P. (2011) Mechanism for long-term memory formation when synaptic strengthening is impaired. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America, 108: 18471-18475.

Radwańska K., Nikolaev E., Kaczmarek L. (2010) Central noradrenergic lesion induced by DSP-4 impairs the acquisition of avoidance reactions and prevents molecular changes in the amygdala. Neurobiology of Learning and Memory, 94: 303-311.

Radwańska K., Wróbel E., Korkosz A., Rogowski A., Kostowski W., Bieńkowski P, Kaczmarek L. (2008) Alcohol Relapse Induced by Discrete Cues Activates Components of AP-1 Transcription Factor and ERK Pathway in the Rat Basolateral and Central Amygdala. Neuropsychopharmacology, 33: 1835-1846.

Knapska E., Radwańska K., Werka T., Kaczmarek L. (2007) Functional internal complexity of amygdala: focus on gene activity mapping following behavioural training and drugs of abuse. Physiological Reviews, 87: 1113-1173.