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Associate Professor Beulah Leitch

Beulah LeitchAssociate Professor Beulah Leitch is interested in the structural and functional development of neurons and changes occurring at synapses during aging and in various brain disorders.

Her studies of inherited forms of epilepsy in mice have been vital for understanding this medical disorder. These mice suffer from ‘absence epilepsy’, the most common form of epilepsy in children. The condition is linked to a calcium-channel-subunit gene mutation. Understanding the role of these subunits could elucidate the basic mechanisms underlying other related human neurological disorders caused by similar mutations.

A/Prof Leitch is also investigating the neurobiology of brain aging by looking at the effects of aging on levels of agmatine in the brain, a major risk factor for neurodegenerative diseases like Alzheimer’s. This may lead to the development of agmatine-based therapeutics for cognitive decline during aging.

In collaboration with Professor Gordon Arbuthnott at the Okinawa Institute of Technology, A/Prof Leitch is looking at the L-type calcium channel Cav 1.3 and changes that occur during Parkinson’s disease. Understanding the role of L-type calcium channels in regulating and modulating synaptic structure and function may have profound implications for a wide range of physiological processes and pathological conditions, including Parkinson’s disease.

Her experimental techniques include electron-microscopy, molecular biology, immunocytochemistry, immunogold labelling, confocal microscopy, and electrophysiology. A/Prof Leitch’s research is funded by the Neurological Foundation of New Zealand, the Dean’s Research Fund, a University of Otago Research Grant, The Wellcome Trust (UK) and the BBSRC (UK).

Find out more about A/Prof Leitch’s research.

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Publications

Hafner, A.-S., Donlin-Asp, 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(6441), eaau3644. doi: 10.1126/science.aau3644

Adotevi, N. K., & Leitch, B. (2019). Cortical expression of AMPA receptors during postnatal development in a genetic model of absence epilepsy. International Journal of Developmental Neuroscience, 73, 19-25. doi: 10.1016/j.ijdevneu.2018.12.006

Panthi, S., & Leitch, B. (2018). Investigating mechanisms underlying absence epilepsy using DREADD technology to silence microcircuits within the cortico-thalamic-cortical network. Proceedings of the Society for Neuroscience 48th Annual Meeting. 039.21/F7. SfN. Retrieved from https://www.sfn.org/

Adotevi, N. K., & Leitch, B. (2017). Synaptic changes in AMPA receptor subunit expression in cortical parvalbumin interneurons in the stargazer model of absence epilepsy. Frontiers in Molecular Neuroscience, 10, 434. doi: 10.3389/fnmol.2017.00434

Barad, Z., Grattan, D. R., & Leitch, B. (2017). NMDA receptor expression in the thalamus of the stargazer model of absence epilepsy. Scientific Reports, 7, 42926. doi: 10.1038/srep42926

Chapter in Book - Research

Lee, K., Goodman, L., Fourie, C., Schenk, S., Leitch, B., & Montgomery, J. M. (2016). AMPA receptors as therapeutic targets for neurological disorders. In R. Donev (Ed.), Advances in Protein Chemistry & Structural Biology (Vol. 103). (pp. 203-261). Elsevier. doi: 10.1016/bs.apcsb.2015.10.004

Leitch, B., & Pitman, R. M. (2009). Neuromodulation of mechanosensory input to the insect CNS. In A. Kamkin & I. Kiseleva (Eds.), Mechanosensitivity of the nervous system (Vol. 2). (pp. 145-170). Amsterdam: Springer.

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Journal - Research Article

Hafner, A.-S., Donlin-Asp, 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(6441), eaau3644. doi: 10.1126/science.aau3644

Adotevi, N. K., & Leitch, B. (2019). Cortical expression of AMPA receptors during postnatal development in a genetic model of absence epilepsy. International Journal of Developmental Neuroscience, 73, 19-25. doi: 10.1016/j.ijdevneu.2018.12.006

Adotevi, N. K., & Leitch, B. (2017). Synaptic changes in AMPA receptor subunit expression in cortical parvalbumin interneurons in the stargazer model of absence epilepsy. Frontiers in Molecular Neuroscience, 10, 434. doi: 10.3389/fnmol.2017.00434

Barad, Z., Grattan, D. R., & Leitch, B. (2017). NMDA receptor expression in the thalamus of the stargazer model of absence epilepsy. Scientific Reports, 7, 42926. doi: 10.1038/srep42926

Best, H. L., Neverman, N. J., Wicky, H. E., Mitchell, N. L., Leitch, B., & Hughes, S. M. (2017). Characterisation of early changes in ovine CLN5 and CLN6 Batten disease neural cultures for the rapid screening of therapeutics. Neurobiology of Disease, 100, 62-74. doi: 10.1016/j.nbd.2017.01.001

Seo, S., & Leitch, B. (2017). Postnatal expression of thalamic GABAA receptor subunits in the stargazer mouse model of absence epilepsy. NeuroReport, 28(18), 1255-1260. doi: 10.1097/wnr.0000000000000909

Jing, Y., Liu, P., & Leitch, B. (2016). Region-specific changes in presynaptic agmatine and glutamate levels in the aged rat brain. Neuroscience, 312, 10-18. doi: 10.1016/j.neuroscience.2015.11.002

Adotevi, N. K., & Leitch, B. (2016). Alterations in AMPA receptor subunit expression in cortical inhibitory interneurons in the epileptic stargazer mutant mouse. Neuroscience, 339, 124-138. doi: 10.1016/j.neuroscience.2016.09.052

Seo, S., & Leitch, B. (2015). Synaptic changes in GABAA receptor expression in the thalamus of the Stargazer mouse model of absence epilepsy. Neuroscience, 306, 28-38. doi: 10.1016/j.neuroscience.2015.08.021

Seo, S., & Leitch, B. (2014). Altered thalamic GABAA -receptor subunit expression in the stargazer mouse model of absence epilepsy. Epilepsia, 55(2), 224-232. doi: 10.1111/epi.12500

Trotman, M., Barad, Z., Guévremont, D., Williams, J., & Leitch, B. (2014). Changes in the GRIP 1&2 scaffolding proteins in the cerebellum of the ataxic stargazer mouse. Brain Research, 1546, 53-62. doi: 10.1016/j.brainres.2013.12.027

Shevtsova, O., & Leitch, B. (2012). Selective loss of AMPA receptor subunits at inhibitory neuron synapses in the cerebellum of the ataxic stargazer mouse. Brain Research, 1427, 54-64. doi: 10.1016/j.brainres.2011.10.022

Barad, Z., Shevtsova, O., Arbuthnott, G. W., & Leitch, B. (2012). Selective loss of AMPA receptors at corticothalamic synapses in the epileptic stargazer mouse. Neuroscience, 217, 19-31. doi: 10.1016/j.neuroscience.2012.05.011

Leitch, B., Shevtsova, O., Reusck, K., Bergin, D. H., & Liu, P. (2011). Spatial learning-induced increase in agmatine levels at hippocampal CA1 synapses. Synapse, 65(2), 146-153. doi: 10.1002/syn.20828

Seo, S., Liu, P., & Leitch, B. (2011). Spatial learning-induced accumulation of agmatine and glutamate at hippocampal CA1 synaptic terminals. Neuroscience, 129, 28-36. doi: 10.1016/j.neuroscience.2011.07.007

Leitch, B., Szostek, A., Lin, R., & Shevtsova, O. (2009). Subcellular distribution of L-type calcium channel subtypes in rat hippocampal neurons. Neuroscience, 164(2), 641-657. doi: 10.1016/j.neuroscience.2009.08.006

Leitch, B., Shevtsova, O., & Kerr, J. R. (2009). Selective reduction in synaptic proteins involved in vesicle docking and signalling at synapses in the ataxic mutant mouse Stargazer. Journal of Comparative Neurology, 512(1), 52-73. doi: 10.1002/cne.21890

Leitch, B., Shevtsova, O., Guévremont, D., & Williams, J. (2009). Loss of calcium channels in the cerebellum of the ataxic and epileptic stargazer mutant mouse. Brain Research, 1279, 156-167. doi: 10.1016/j.brainres.2009.04.051

Richardson, C. A., & Leitch, B. (2007). Identification of the neurotransmitters involved in modulation of transmitter release from the central terminals of the locust wing hinge stretch receptor. Journal of Comparative Neurology, 502, 794-809.

Richardson, C. A., & Leitch, B. (2005). Phenotype of cerebellar glutamatergic neurons is altered in stargazer mutant mice lacking brain-derived neurotrophic factor mRNA expressions. Journal of Comparative Neurology, 481, 145-159.

Leitch, B., Judge, S., & Pitman, R. M. (2003). Octopaminergic modulation of synaptic transmission between an identified sensory afferent and flight motoneuron in the locust. Journal of Comparative Neurology, 462, 55-70.

Richardson, C. A., & Leitch, B. (2002). Cerebellar Golgi, Purkinje, and basket cells have reduced γ-aminobutyric acid immunoreactivity in stargazer mutant mice. Journal of Comparative Neurology, 453, 85-99.

Down, R. E., Ford, L., Woodhouse, S. D., Raemaekers, R. J. M., Leitch, B., Gatehouse, J. A., & Gatehouse, A. M. R. (2000). Snowdrop lectin (GNA) has no acute toxic effects on a beneficial insect predator, the 2-spot ladybird (Adalia bipunctata L.). Journal of Insect Physiology, 46, 379-391.

Judge, S., & Leitch, B. (1999). GABA immunoreactivity in processes presynaptic to the locust wing stretch receptor neuron. Journal of Comparative Neurology, 407(1), 103-114.

Judge, S., & Leitch, B. (1999). Modulation of transmitter release from the locust forewing stretch receptor neuron by GABAergic interneurons activated via muscarinic receptors. Journal of Neurobiology, 40(3), 420-431.

Leitch, B., & Laurent, G. (1996). GABAergic synapses in the antennal lobe and mushroom body of the locust olfactory system. Journal of Comparative Neurology, 372(4), 487-514.

Watkins, B. L., Leitch, B., Burrows, M., & Knowles, B. H. (1995). Localization of a nicotinic acetylcholine receptor-like antigen in the thoracic nervous system of embryonic locusts, Schistocerca gregaria. Journal of Comparative Neurology, 351(1), 134-144. doi: 10.1002/cne.903510112

Leitch, B., & Pitman, R. M. (1995). Modulation of transmitter release from the terminals of the locust wing stretch receptor neuron by muscarinic antagonists. Journal of Neurobiology, 28(4), 455-464. doi: 10.1002/neu.480280406

Watson, A. H., Burrows, M., & Leitch, B. (1993). GABA-immunoreactivity in processes presynaptic to the terminals of afferents from a locust leg proprioceptor. Journal of Neurocytology, 22(7), 547-557.

Leitch, B., Watkins, B. L., & Burrows, M. (1993). Distribution of acetylcholine receptors in the central nervous system of adult locusts. Journal of Comparative Neurology, 334(1), 47-58. doi: 10.1002/cne.903340104

Leitch, B., & Laurent, G. (1993). Distribution of GABAergic synaptic terminals on the dendrites of locust spiking local interneurones. Journal of Comparative Neurology, 337(3), 461-470. doi: 10.1002/cne.903370309

Leitch, B., Pitman, R. M., Heitler, W. J., & Cobb, J. L. (1992). Structural and functional post-embryonic development of a non-rectifying electrical synapse in the crayfish. Journal of Neurocytology, 21(2), 120-128.

Leitch, B., Laurent, G., & Shepherd, D. (1992). Embryonic development of synapses on spiking local interneurones in locust. Journal of Comparative Neurology, 324(2), 213-236. doi: 10.1002/cne.903240206

Leitch, B., Heitler, W. J., Pitman, R. M., & Cobb, J. L. (1992). Two classes of vesicles are present and change in relative proportion during post-embryonic development of rectifying electrical synapses in the crayfish. Journal of Comparative Neurology, 321(2), 267-276. doi: 10.1002/cne.903210207

Leitch, B. (1992). Ultrastructure of electrical synapses: Review. Electron Microscopy Reviews, 5(2), 311-339.

Heitler, W. J., Pitman, R. M., Cobb, J. L., & Leitch, B. (1991). Postembryonic development of rectifying electrical synapses in crayfish: physiology. Journal of Neurocytology, 20(2), 109-123.

Leitch, B., & Finbow, M. E. (1990). The gap junction-like form of a vacuolar proton channel component appears not to be an artifact of isolation: An immunocytochemical localization study. Experimental Cell Research, 190(2), 218-226.

Leitch, B., Heitler, W. J., Cobb, J. L., & Pitman, R. M. (1990). Anti-GABA antibodies label a subpopulation of chemical synapses which modulate an electrical synapse in crayfish. Journal of Neurocytology, 19(6), 929-936.

Leitch, B., & Probert, A. J. (1990). Schistosoma haematobium: The effect of Astiban on the cell composition and ultrastructure of the vitelline gland and the ultrastructure of the tegument and gastrodermis. Journal of Helminthology, 64(1), 65-69.

Leitch, B., Cobb, J. L., Heitler, W. J., & Pitman, R. M. (1989). Post-embryonic development of rectifying electrical synapses in the crayfish: Ultrastructure. Journal of Neurocytology, 18(6), 749-761.

Leitch, B., & Probert, A. J. (1984). Schistosoma haematobium: Amoscanate and adult worm ultrastructure. Experimental Parasitology, 58(3), 278-289.

Leitch, B., Probert, A. J., & Runham, N. W. (1984). The ultrastructure of the tegument of adult Schistosoma haematobium. Parasitology, 89 (Pt. 1), 71-78.

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Conference Contribution - Published proceedings: Abstract

Panthi, S., & Leitch, B. (2018). Investigating mechanisms underlying absence epilepsy using DREADD technology to silence microcircuits within the cortico-thalamic-cortical network. Proceedings of the Society for Neuroscience 48th Annual Meeting. 039.21/F7. SfN. Retrieved from https://www.sfn.org/

Adotevi, N. K., & Leitch, B. (2017). Changes in synaptic expression of glutamatergic AMPA receptors in cortical inhibitory interneurons in a mouse model of absence epilepsy. Epilepsia, 58(Suppl. 5), (pp. S25-S26). doi: 10.1111/epi.13944

Adotevi, N. K., & Leitch, B. (2016). Altered AMPA receptor expression in cortical inhibitory interneurons of the epileptic stargazer mutant mouse. Proceedings of the Australasian Neuroscience Society Annual Scientific Meeting. Retrieved from https://www.ans.org.au

Barad, Z., & Leitch, B. (2014). Altered NMDAR subunit composition in the thalamus of a mouse model of absence epilepsy. In B. Leitch & J. Shemmell (Eds.), Proceedings of the 32nd International Australasian Winter Conference on Brain Research. 32, (pp. 68). AWCBR. Retrieved from https://web.psy.otago.ac.nz/awcbr/proceedings.html

Seo, S., & Leitch, B. (2014). Region-specific changes in GABAAR subunits in the thalamus of an animal model of absence epilepsy. In B. Leitch & J. Shemmell (Eds.), Proceedings of the 32nd International Australasian Winter Conference on Brain Research. 32, (pp. 30). AWCBR. Retrieved from https://web.psy.otago.ac.nz/awcbr/proceedings.html

Adotevi, N., & Leitch, B. (2014). Cortical changes in AMPA receptor expression in the stargazer mouse model of absence epilepsy. In B. Leitch & J. Shemmell (Eds.), Proceedings of the 32nd International Australasian Winter Conference on Brain Research. 32, (pp. 67). AWCBR. Retrieved from https://web.psy.otago.ac.nz/awcbr/proceedings.html

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