Associate Professor Beulah Leitch (Chair of the Neuroscience Research Group, Anatomy)
The Leitch Group research interests are in cellular and molecular neuroscience. Our research focuses on the structural and functional development of neurons and their synapses; also changes occurring at synapses during aging and in various brain disorders. We are particularly interested in the impact of altered expression of receptors and their trafficking proteins at synapses.
Projects include investigations into: the effect of AMPA receptor deficits in corticothalamic networks as a result of a mutation in a TARP trafficking protein in the Stargazer model of absence epilepsy; changes in receptor expression at synapses in the maternal immune activation model of schizophrenia; calcium channels in normal and diseased brain; agmatine and age-related cognitive decline; and the effects of BDNF deficits on synaptic plasticity in the cerebellum.
We also have research interests in the detection of newly synthesized receptor proteins at dendritic locations and synapses in collaboration with the Max Planck Institute in Brain Research, Frankfurt Germany. This project uses new methodologies to detect recently synthesized protein molecules at synapses, from their pre-existing counter-parts, with ultrastructural resolution. This research will lay the groundwork for studying whether defects in local protein synthesis contributes to synaptic dysfunction underlying various brain disorders such as Alzheimer's disease. A/P Leitch is a co-author with her collaborators form MPI-BR on a paper in Science, published 17 May 2019.
Hafner, A-S. Donlin, P.G. Leitch, B. Herzog, E. & Schuman E.M. 2019. Local protein synthesis is a ubiquitous feature of neuronal pre- and postsynaptic compartments. Science. 364, eaau3644 (2019) 17 May 2019.
“Our brain cells (neurons) talk to each other at specialized connections called synapses. Understanding the mechanisms underlying synaptic dysfunction is fundamental to understanding many brain disorders”.
The Leitch Research Group expertise includes: electron microscopy (EM); immunogold-cytochemistry; molecular biology; immunoblotting; immunocytochemistry; confocal microscopy; high-resolution imaging techniques; neuronal cell culture; electrophysiology and EEG/video recording.
Hassan, M., Grattan, D. R., & Leitch, B. (2023). Developmental inhibitory changes in the primary somatosensory cortex of the stargazer mouse model of absence epilepsy. Biomolecules, 13, 186. doi: 10.3390/biom13010186
Hassan, M., Adotevi, N. K., & Leitch, B. (2022). Altered GABAA receptor expression in the primary somatosensory cortex of a mouse model of genetic absence epilepsy. International Journal of Molecular Sciences, 23, 15685. doi: 10.3390/ijms232415685
Leitch, B. (2022). The impact of glutamatergic synapse dysfunction in the corticothalamocortical network on absence seizure generation [Review]. Frontiers in Molecular Neuroscience, 15, 836255. doi: 10.3389/fnmol.2022.836255
Panthi, S., & Leitch, B. (2021). Chemogenetic activation of corticothalamocortical feedforward inhibitory parvalbumin expressing interneurons during absence seizures: An EEG study. Epilepsia, 62(Suppl. 3), (pp. 85-86). doi: 10.1111/epi.17079
Panthi, S., Lyons, N. M. A., & Leitch, B. (2021). Impact of dysfunctional feed-forward inhibition on glutamate decarboxylase isoforms and γ-aminobutyric acid transporters. International Journal of Molecular Sciences, 22(14), 7740. doi: 10.3390/ijms22147740