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Otago Medical School staff profiles

Associate Professor Beulah Leitch

PositionAssociate Professor
DepartmentDepartment of Anatomy
QualificationsBSc(Hons) PhD
Research summaryCellular and molecular neuroscience; neurological disorders
Memberships
  • 2010–present – The Royal Society of New Zealand (MRSNZ)
  • 2007–present – The International Brain Research Organization (IBRO)
  • 1995–present – The Society for Neuroscience USA (SFN)
  • 2007–present – The Federation of European Neuroscience Societies (FENS)
  • 2008–present – The British Neuroscience Association (BNA)
  • 2008–present – The Australian Neuroscience Society (ANS)
  • 2007–present – The Brain Health Research Centre University of Otago (BHRC)
  • 2009–present – The Society for Neuroscience, SFN Otago Chapter

Research

Associate Professor Leitch's research interests are in cellular and molecular neuroscience and focus on the structural and functional development of neurons and their synapses; also changes occurring at synapses during aging and in various brain disorders. Her group is particularly interested in changes that occur at synapses in relation to their synaptic proteins and receptors, as a result of genetic mutations, and how this relates to brain functional abnormalities and diseases, including epilepsy, schizophrenia, autism and ataxia.

A recent focus of the Leitch lab has been into the detection of newly synthesized proteins at synapses and in dendritic locations using high-resolution EM-immunogold techniques. This project is in collaboration with Professor Schuman's Lab, at the Max Planck Institute for Brain Research (MPI-BR), Frankfurt, Germany. The project is based on the novel FUNCAT-PLA and Puro-PLA techniques recently developed in the Schuman laboratory for labelling newly synthesised proteins in cultured neurons. 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.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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., 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

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., & 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., 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., 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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