Contributions functionnelles et transcriptionelles des circuits neuronaux aux effets du stress chez le male et la femelle


Benoit Labonté

Centre de recherche de l'institut universitaire en santé mentale de Québec [CRIUSMQ]


Domaine : neurosciences, santé mentale et toxicomanies

Programme chercheurs-boursiers - Junior 1

Concours 2017-2018

Major depressive disorder is a debilitating condition affecting males and females differently. In the brain, these differences result in several functional alterations interfering with the activity of brain regions normally required to cope with the effects of stress. At the molecular level, these alterations refer to transcriptional changes affecting gene activity. Now, when modified, these genes can't fill cells needs what leads to inadequate responses translating into the expression of depressive-like behavior.

At the molecular level, gene activity is highly organized in order to control cellular activity and communication. These communications control the way we deal with stressful situations. Increasing or decreasing the activity between specific cellular populations can, by itself, trigger the expression of major behavioral changes such as depressive-like symptoms. Up to date, the contribution of these different cellular populations to stress responses remains poorly understood and the transcriptional mechanisms underlying their activity unexplored.
Here, I propose a multidisciplinary approach to identify neuronal circuits and stimulate them to determine their role in behavioral regulation in a sex-specific fashion. By doing so, I use a viral approach in transgenic mice allowing me to visualize cells and then sort them to get access to their genes. Using different bioinformatics approaches, I will profile gene structures unique to individual neuronal populations and compare them between males and females after stress.

Results from my analyses will allow me to determine sexual differences underlying cellular activity in response to stress. Ultimately, these approaches will lead to the development of better therapeutic strategies for the treatment of mood disorders in males and females.