Biochemistry and Molecular Biology
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Cell Biology

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Sarah Ades

  • Associate Professor of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology

Signal transduction and antibiotic induced stress responses in bacteria.

408 Althouse Laboratory

(814) 863-1088

Richard Frisque

  • Professor of Molecular Virology and
  • Associate Department Head for Equity and Diversity

Molecular approaches to the unique biology of JC virus

434 South Frear Laboratory

(814) 863-3523

Wendy Hanna-Rose

  • Interim Department Head, Biochemistry and Molecular Biology
  • Associate Professor of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology
  • Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology

Molecular Genetics of Metabolism and Development in C. elegans

104D Life Sciences Building

(814) 865-7904

Teh-hui Kao

  • Distinguished Professor of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology

Biochemical and molecular bases of self/non-self recognition during plant reproduction

333 South Frear Laboratory

(814) 863-1042

Zhi-Chun Lai

  • Professor of Biology and
  • Professor of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology

Growth control and cancer genetics

127 Life Sciences Building

(814) 863-0479

Bernhard Lüscher

  • Professor of Biology
  • Professor of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology

Molecular and cellular mechanisms and neural circuit changes underlying neuropsychiatric disorders. Molecular and cellular mechanisms underlying successful antidepressant drug treatment    Research Summary We are working to improve our understanding of the role and function of GABAergic transmission in health and disease. GABA (gamma-aminobutyric acid) is the principal inhibitory neurotransmitter in the brain and known to exert most of its function by activation of so-called GABA(A) receptors. These receptors are GABA-gated chloride channels and they serve as the targets of several classes of clinically and therapeutically important psychoactive drugs, most notably the benzodiazepines (Valium, Xanax, Versed, etc). Based on knowledge derived from these drugs, GABA(A) receptors are known to modulate virtually every higher-order brain function (learning, memory, cognition, emotion, pain, motivation, muscle tension, etc). A first line of research uses mouse genetics to model and investigate the molecular mechanisms underlying neuropsychiatric disorders. In particular, we are interested in the etiology of Major Depressive Disorder (MDD), a leading cause of total disability affecting about 17 percent of the human population at least once in their lives. Recent clinical evidence points to functional impairment of certain GABA-releasing interneurons and reduced brain concentrations of GABA as a likely cause of MDD. Using targeted mutagenesis in mice, we have shown that modest deficits in GABAergic transmission are sufficient to reproduce behavioral, cognitive, cellular, endocrine, and pharmacological alterations expected of a mouse model of depression. These mice, therefore, provide strong evidence that GABA deficits are not just an epiphenomenon of MDD, but that they can, in fact, be causal for MDD (reviewed in Luscher et al 2011, Mol. Psychiatry). Using these mice we have shown that defects in GABergic transmission can be causal for defects in the function of glutamate, the primary excitatory neurotransmitter in the brain, and that the defects in both GABA and glutamate can be reversed with the rapid-acting antidepressant, ketamine (Ren et al 2016)   As part of a second line of research, we are elucidating the mechanisms of antidepressant drug action. It is becoming increasingly clear that antidepressants act to ultimately increase and normalize GABAergic synaptic transmission even if they are designed to enhance the function of other neurotransmitters (serotonin, norepinephrine, glutamate, and their receptors. Therefore, we asked whether genetically enhancing the function of certain GABA-releasing interneurons would be sufficient to mimic the effects of above antidepressant drug treatments. We succeeded in showing that genetically increasing the excitability of GABA-producing interneurons known as somatostatin cells reproduced both biochemical and behavioral consequences of antidepressant drug treatment (Fuchs et al 2017).  Ongoing research seeks to better understand the molecular and cellular changes underlying MDD and antidepressant drug action, with the aim to design novel antidepressant drug treatments.          

209 Life Sciences Building

(814) 865-5549

Andrea Mastro

  • Professor of Microbiology and Cell Biology

Breast cancer and immune system

428 South Frear Laboratory

(814) 863-0152

Tim Miyashiro

  • Assistant Professor of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology

Bacterial gene expression within natural host environments;  Host-microbe symbioses

410 South Frear Laboratory

(814) 865-1916

Kathleen Postle

  • Professor of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology

Signal transduction and iron transport in bacteria as a target for novel antibiotic development

301 Althouse Laboratory

(814) 863-7568

Joseph Reese

  • Professor of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology

Chromatin structure and gene expression, DNA damage resistance pathways

463A North Frear Laboratory

(814) 865-1976

Melissa Rolls

  • Associate Professor of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology
  • Chair of the Molecular, Cellular and Integrative Biosciences Graduate Program

Subcellular compartmentalization of neurons

118 Life Sciences Building

(814) 867-1395

Lorraine Santy

  • Associate Professor of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology

Small GTPase regulation of epithelial cell motility

208 Althouse Laboratory

(814) 863-6813

Moriah Szpara

  • Assistant Professor of Biochemistry & Molecular Biology

Neurovirology, genomics of pathogen variation, neuron-virus relationships

W-208 Millennium Science Complex

(814) 867-0008

Song Tan

  • Professor of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology

Structural biology of eukaryotic gene regulation

468A North Frear Laboratory

(814) 865-3355

Claire Thomas

  • Associate Professor of Biology
  • and Biochemistry and Molecular Biology

Roles of the cytoskeleton in Drosophila development: molecular and genetic approaches

617 Mueller Lab (mailbox 208 Mueller)

(814) 863-0716

Yanming Wang

  • Associate Professor of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology

Epigenetic histone modifications in cell differentiation and cancer

454 North Frear Laboratory

(814) 865-3775

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