NIH Director's Seminar Series: Hypothalamic cell types and circuits that drive survival behaviors


Dr. Yeka Aponte

The December 2022 lecture in the NIH Director's Seminar Series will be presented by IRP senior investigator Yeka Aponte, Ph.D. The Aponte lab studies the role of genetically-identified neurons and their projections in behaviors that are essential for survival. Their ultimate goal is to understand how neurons in distinct hypothalamic circuits encode pain and the rewarding and addictive nature of food intake. To answer these questions, they use a combination of optogenetics, chemogenetics, electrophysiology, two- and single-photon fluorescence endomicroscopy, and behavioral assays to manipulate and measure the activity of these genetically-defined neuronal subpopulations in awake behaving mice. Recently, they showed how two of the lateral hypothalamic neuronal populations identified by the expression of the calcium-binding protein parvalbumin (PVALB; LHPV) or leptin receptor (LHLEPR) modulate pain and appetitive behaviors, respectively, in mice. Their work revealed LHPV neurons as regulators of the LH glutamatergic circuitry orchestrating pain behaviors and identified LHLEPR neurons as modulators of a hypothalamic-ventral tegmental midbrain circuit involved in controlling motivation and appetitive behaviors.

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This page was last updated on Tuesday, November 1, 2022