The Krishnan lab published their first paper this week with data completely collected at UT Knoxville. The effort was led by Dr. Billy Lau, an experienced postdoctoral scientist, and included significant contributions from Ms. Dana Layo, a BCMB graduate student and nine other undergraduate students. Many of these students were supported by research assistantships through Office of Undergraduate Research. Dr. Rachel McCord, an assistant professor in BCMB, performed computational analysis for this paper as well.
The paper titled Lateralized expression of cortical perineuronal nets during maternal experience is dependent on MECP2 was published in eNeuro, the Society for Neuroscience’s (SfN) open access journal. The paper characterizes the dynamic expression of structures called perineuronal nets (PNNs) in the adult female mouse brain. PNNs are extracellular matrix structures that have long been considered stable static structures that preserve established networks or act as barriers to plasticity in adult brains. However, it is well established that adult brains continue to undergo plasticity throughout life, concomitant with dynamic physiological, environmental and social changes in one’s life. Thus, the authors explored if PNNs stay as static structures, when a female adult mouse’s social conditions change. Using systematic whole brain microscopy and image analysis, they obtained novel results showing PNNs are dynamic structures, which exhibit cortical asymmetry, nuanced sub-region specific expression and individual variability across different animals. Furthermore, they found atypical expression in an adult female mouse model for Rett Syndrome, a devastating neurodevelopmental disorder that primarily affects girls and women. These findings are important as they contribute to our understanding of how individual adult brains change at the cellular level during different social experiences, and to our understanding of how brains are atypically plastic or rigid in neurological disorders
eNeuro considered this paper to be noteworthy and featured this work in the “Research Spotlight” section (https://www.eneuro.org/content/featured-research).
More about the article is on a Twitter thread explaining our work at https://twitter.com/KeerthiKrishna3/status/1260786135351074816