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Our New Paper shows Ndr2 kinase role in hippocampal plasticity and behavior

Transgenic modeling of Ndr2 gene amplification reveals disturbance of hippocampus circuitry and function.Madencioglu DA, Çalışkan G, Yuanxiang P, Rehberg K, Demiray YE, Kul E, Engler A, Hayani H, Bergado-Acosta JR, Kummer A, Müller I, Song I, Dityatev A, Kähne T, Kreutz MR, Stork O.iScience. 2021 Jul 19;24(8):102868. doi: 10.1016/j.isci.2021.102868


Duplications and deletions of short chromosomal fragments are increasingly recognized as the cause for rare neurodevelopmental conditions and disorders. The NDR2 gene encodes a protein kinase important for neuronal development and is part of a microduplication region on chromosome 12 that is associated with intellectual disabilities, autism, and epilepsy. We developed a conditional transgenic mouse with increased Ndr2 expression in postmigratory forebrain neurons to study the consequences of an increased gene dosage of this Hippo pathway kinase on brain circuitry and cognitive functions. Our analysis reveals reduced terminal fields and synaptic transmission of hippocampal mossy fibers, altered hippocampal network activity, and deficits in mossy fiber-dependent behaviors. Reduced doublecortin expression and protein interactome analysis indicate that transgenic Ndr2 disturbs the maturation of granule cells in the dentate gyrus. Together, our data suggest that increased expression of Ndr2 may critically contribute to the development of intellectual disabilities upon gene amplification.

Keywords: genetics; neuroscience; sensory neuroscience.

Research Unit 5228 Syntophagy awarded by the German Research Foundation

The new research unit 5228 “Syntophagy”, a collaboration of researchers in Magdeburg, Berlin, Bremen and Haifa has been awarded funding by the German Research Foundation. The consortium lead by Dr. Michael Kreutz of the Leibniz Institute for Neurobiology in Magdeburg will examine the role of autophagy in synaptic functions. In our subproject, we join forces with Anne Albrecht at the Institute of Anatomy, OVGU, to study the control of stress related behaviour through autophagy in the hippocampus.

Our new paper is online: Reducing glutamic acid decarboxylase in the dorsal dentate gyrus attenuates juvenile stress induced emotional and cognitive deficits.



A high degree of regional, temporal and molecular specificity is evident in the regulation of GABAergic signaling in stress-responsive circuitry, hampering the use of systemic GABAergic modulators for the treatment of stress-related psychopathology. Here we investigated the effectiveness of local intervention with the GABA synthetic enzymes GAD65 and GAD67 in the dorsal dentate gyrus (dDG) vs ventral DG (vDG) to alleviate anxiety-like behavior and stress-induced symptoms in the rat. We induced shRNA-mediated knock down of either GAD65 or GAD67 with lentiviral vectors microinjected into the dDG or vDG of young adult male rats and examined anxiety behavior, learning and memory performance. Subsequently we tested whether reducing GAD65 expression in the dDG would also confer resilience against juvenile stress-induced behavioral and physiological symptoms in adulthood. While knock down of either isoform in the vDG increased anxiety levels in the open field and the elevated plus maze tests, the knock down of GAD65, but not GAD67, in the dDG conferred a significant reduction in anxiety levels. Strikingly, this manipulation also attenuated juvenile stress evoked anxiety behavior, cognitive and synaptic plasticity impairments. Local GABAergic circuitry in the DG plays an important and highly region-specific role in control of emotional behavior and stress responding. Reduction of GAD65 expression in the dDG appears to provide resilience to juvenile stress-induced emotional and cognitive deficits, opening a new direction towards addressing a significant risk factor for developing stress and trauma-related psychopathologies later in life.

Our new study on gamma oscillopathy in a fragile x syndrome (FXS) mouse model is online

Hippocampal gamma-band oscillopathy in a mouse model of Fragile X Syndrome

Evangelia Pollali, Jan-Oliver Hollnagel, Gürsel Çalışkan. doi:


Fragile X syndrome (FXS) is the most common inherited form of intellectual disability arising from the loss of fragile X mental retardation protein (FMRP), a protein that plays a central role in neuronal function and plasticity. FXS patients show sensory hypersensitivity, hyperarousal and hippocampus-dependent learning deficits that can be recapitulated in the FMR1 KO mice. Enhanced metabotropic glutamate receptor (mGluR) signaling and muscarinic acetylcholine receptor (mAChR) signaling in the FMR1 KO mouse are implicated as the primary causes of the disease pathogenesis. Furthermore, glutamatergic kainate receptor (KAR) function is reduced in the cortex of the FMR1 KO mice. Of note, activation of these signaling pathways leads to slow gamma-range oscillations in the hippocampus in vitro and abnormal gamma oscillations have been reported in FMR1 KO mice and patients with FXS. Thus, we hypothesized that aberrant activation of these receptors leads to the observed gamma oscillopathy. We recorded gamma oscillations induced by either cholinergic agonist carbachol (CCh), mGluR1/5 agonist Dihydroxyphenylglycine (DHPG) or ionotropic glutamatergic agonist KA from the hippocampal CA3 in WT and FMR1 KO mice in vitro. We show a specific increase in the power of DHPG and CCh-induced gamma oscillations and reduction in the synchronicity of gamma oscillations induced by KA. We further elucidate an aberrant spiking activity during CCh-induced and kainate-induced gamma oscillations which may underlie the altered gamma oscillation synchronization in the FMR1 KO mice. Last, we also noted a reduced incidence of spontaneously-occurring hippocampal sharp wave-ripple events. Our study provides further evidence for aberrant hippocampal rhythms in the FMR1 KO mice and identifies potential signaling pathways underlying gamma band oscillopathy in FXS.

Our New paper is online in NATURE COMMUNICATIONS: Short antisense oligonucleotides alleviate the pleiotropic toxicity of RNA harboring expanded CGG repeats. |

Magdalena Derbis, Emre Kul, Daria Niewiadomska , Michał Sekrecki, Agnieszka Piasecka, Katarzyna Taylor, Renate K. Hukema , Oliver Stork & Krzysztof Sobczak



Fragile X-associated tremor/ataxia syndrome (FXTAS) is an incurable neurodegenerative disorder caused by expansion of CGG repeats in the FMR1 5’UTR. The RNA containing expanded CGG repeats (rCGGexp) causes cell damage by interaction with complementary DNA, forming R-loop structures, sequestration of nuclear proteins involved in RNA metabolism and initiation of translation of polyglycine-containing protein (FMRpolyG), which forms nuclear insoluble inclusions. Here we show the therapeutic potential of short antisense oligonucleotide steric blockers (ASOs) targeting directly the rCGGexp. In nuclei of FXTAS cells ASOs affect R-loop formation and correct miRNA biogenesis and alternative splicing, indicating that nuclear proteins are released from toxic sequestration. In cytoplasm, ASOs significantly decrease the biosynthesis and accumulation of FMRpolyG. Delivery of ASO into a brain of FXTAS mouse model reduces formation of inclusions, improves motor behavior and corrects gene expression profile with marginal signs of toxicity after a few weeks from a treatment.

New Paper online: Allostatic Regulation of GAD65 by Juvenile Stress

Our newest paper is online: Allostatic gene regulation of inhibitory synaptic factors in the rat ventral hippocampus in a juvenile/adult stress model of psychopathology by Anne Albrecht, Menahem Segal and Oliver Stork

Here we show the region-specific long-term regulation of GABA-related molecular factors in the hippocampus after a juvenile stress experience. Our data highlight the role of ventral hippocampus and mechanisms that control local excitation/inhibition balance in development in adaptive and maladaptive stress responding.


Early life stress is an important vulnerability factor for the development of anxiety disorders, depression and late-onset cognitive decline. Recently we demonstrated that juvenile stress (JS) lastingly enhanced long-term potentiation via reduction of steady-state glutamine synthetase mRNA expression and the associated dysregulation of the astrocytic glutamate-glutamine cycle in the rat ventral CA1. We now investigated the regulation of steady-state mRNA expression of neuronal gene products that determine GABAergic and glutamatergic neurotransmission in layers of the ventral and dorsal CA1 after JS. We further studied their interaction with stress in young adult age (AS) to address their putative role in psychopathology development. Strikingly, mRNA levels of the glutamic acid decarboxylase (GAD) isoforms GAD65 and of the GABA-A receptor a2 (Gabra2) were increased after single JS or AS, but not after combined JS/AS stress experience. In fact, JS/AS resulted in layer-specific reduction of Gabra2 and also of Gabra1 mRNA levels in the ventral CA1. Furthermore, GAD65 and Gabra2 mRNAs were correlated with glutamatergic AMPA and NMDA receptor subunit mRNAs after single JS and AS, but not after combined JS/AS. Together, these data indicate a loss of allostatic regulation of steady-state mRNA levels of key GABAergic components that may result in a dysregulation of excitation/ inhibition balance in the ventral CA1 upon dual stress exposure. Finally, individual differences in local glucocorticoid receptor mRNA expression may contribute to this regulation.

Storklab contributes to three projects in the new Collaborative Research Center (CRC1436): “Neural Resources of Cognition”

The new CRC1436 “Neural Resources of Cognition”, which has been approved by the German Research Foundation on November 30th, will start its work on January 1st, 2021. Info at :ät/Im+Portrait/Profilierungsschwerpunkte/Forschung+_+Transfer/PM+63_2020-p-110490.html

Storklab participates in three projects of this CRC:

Project A07 (together with Prof. Dr. Dr. Anne Albrecht, Institute for Anatomy) –  Orexinergic modulation of neural resource

Project Z01 (together with Dr. Michael Kreutz, Leibniz Institute for Neurobiology and Prof. Dr. Frank Angenstein, German Center for Neurodegenertive Diseases) – Functional neural circuit analysis and small animal imaging in vivo

Project IRTG (together with Prof. Dr. Toemme Noesselt, Institute of Psychology) – Integrated Research Training Group

We are looking forward to these exciting collaborations!


Gürsel Caliskan established a Frontiers research topic on functional aspects of neural oscillations

Gürsel Caliskan, Sanja Mikulovic, Gabrielle Girardeau

Accumulating evidence supports the fundamental role of mesoscopic oscillatory network activities in sustaining numerous physiological functions. Indeed, mesoscopic scale recordings from rodents, primates, and humans have demonstrated the causal and/or correlative role of these brain rhythms in distinct behavioral domains including innate, emotional, and cognitive behavior. Depending on the behavioral state, these voltage deflections can range from slow (< 1 Hz) to fast oscillations (>200 Hz) and appear in distinct brain structures. They mediate local and brain-wide coordination of information processing via synchronization of neuronal activity. Thus, genetic or environmental factors that lead to alterations in oscillations can lead to disease states that are associated with aberrant innate, emotional, and cognitive behavior.

Despite the increasing attempts over the last decades, mesoscopic scale biomarkers of diverse neuropsychiatric, neurodevelopmental and neurodegenerative disorders are still sparsely identified. Studying mesoscopic brain rhythms in both healthy and diseased states provides an excellent approach in understanding healthy oscillations as well as distinguishing them from disease-associated “oscillopathies”. Thus, a collective effort on the identification of functional aspects of specific network oscillation patterns could accelerate the utilization of mesoscopic brain rhythms as biomarkers and as an entry point for therapy development in distinct disease states that are associated with aberrant innate, emotional, and cognitive behavior.

The goal of this Research Topic is to highlight the recent advances in the study of mesoscopic network activities with the aim of providing an overview of this wide-ranging topic. A particular emphasis will be on the functional aspects of network oscillations, their unique roles in innate, emotional, and cognitive behavior, and their involvement in distinct disease states. Studies using rodent models, primates, and/or human subjects are welcome. We seek Original Research, Review, Mini-Review, Hypothesis and Theory, Perspective, Clinical Trial, Case Report, and Opinion articles that cover, but are not limited to, the following topics:

• Oscillatory correlates of innate and emotional behavior

• Oscillatory correlates of emotional memory modulation

• Oscillatory correlates of cognition including studies focusing on spatial memory, working memory

• Role of sleep-associated oscillations in emotional vs. cognitive memory

In vitro / in vivo evidence for oscillatory changes from animal models of neuropsychiatric, neurodevelopmental and neurodegenerative disorders

In vitro / in vivo studies providing insights into molecular and cellular correlates of network oscillations

• Novel approaches to measure mesoscopic oscillatory activities in the brain, combination of different methods

Please se: