NEW ARTICLE!

Emma is the first author of an article published in Nature Communications about the existing differences among neurons expressing dopamine D2 receptors in the striatum. It is an international collaboration in which Albert and Eli also participated.

The striatum is a brain region involved in motor control, habit formation, decision-making, motivation and reinforcement, among other aspects, and its disfunction has been associated with many neurological and psychiatric disorders. One of the most important neurotransmitters in the striatum is dopamine, which exerts different functions depending on the kind of receptor it binds to.

This study, which is an international collaboration, focused on D2 receptors, and showed that, contrary to paradigm, not all D2 neurons within the striatum have the same molecular identify or function, but that their neuro-anatomical localization is key.

Using cutting-edge technologies, they analyzed mouse models to see what genes are expressed in D2 neurons from the two main areas of the striatum: the ventral striatum, consisting mainly of the nucleus accumbens, and the dorsal striatum, and revealed overwhelming differences among them. Thus, depending on their precise anatomical location, they express different kinds of proteins, changing neurons’ features and functions.

They also focused on a group of neurons mainly located in the accumbens, which express the protein WFS1, and studied the effects of deleting their D2 receptors. What they observed was a significant reduction in digging, an innate behavior used in many species to seek or hoard food, as shelter, or to hide away from predators, whose underlying neuronal mechanisms were still unknown. Additionally, the authors found that these animals present an exacerbated hyperlocomotor response when their dopamine levels are increased through amphetamine administration, suggesting a key role of D2 receptors from WFS1 neurons in the response to psychostimulants.

Overall, this study demonstrates that there is a huge complexity and functional specificity among D2 neuron subpopulations, and reveals the possibility to manipulate them specifically to better understand their functions, in both physiological and pathological contexts.

MitoTreat won the 9th edition of the Generació d’Idees Program!

Generació d’Idees is a program organized by Parc de Recerca UAB, to promote entrepreneurship among researchers. Communications, mental health, environment… They focus on a different topic in each edition, and this time, it was the turn of biotechnology.

During 17 sessions, researchers were given the tools to develop innovative solutions in the biotechnology field. They had modelling classes, mentoring sessions, etc., and then, after all this time, they presented six different projects to a board of experts. The most innovative one was selected… and guess which one was it! Yessss: MitoTreat!

MitoTreat was developed by Emma, Elisenda and Albert, and consists in using Cannabidiol, a substance found in cannabis, to treat mitochondrial disease. Cannabidiol has anti-inflammatory, anti-oxidant, analgesic, neuroprotective and anti-convulsive proprieties.

In animal models of mitochondrial diseases it showed excellent results, and now they want to start the preclinical trial in humans.

The project obtained a 1500 euro prize and 6 months of incubation at Eureka building, at Parc de Recerca, to improve the transference of the drug to the market.

Congrats!

Quintanalab-Calçotada 2019

The Quintanalab-Calçotada 2019 took place on a super sunny April day in El Priorat de Banyeres, a tiny village near Vilafranca. Thanks, Andrea, for offering the house!

It is already a tradition that the whole group gathers together one day to eat calçots with salsa romesco and have fun.

(Please, note Albert’s Salt Bae position…)

Àlex was the calçots chef. A fire was made, and he cooked the calçots with patience and expertise. He did an excellent job as they were very delicious!

After the heavy lunch, to digest, we played dodgeball. Ask Albert who won. Spoiler: not his team.

Then we drunk mojitos and talked and drunk more mojitos… It was a very nice day! Can’t wait for the Quintanalab-Calçotada 2020!

Swiss Light-sheet Microscopy Workshop

Last 24th and 25th of April, Andrea, Pablo, Elisenda and Albert went to Zurich to attend the Swiss Light-sheet Microscopy Workshop.

 

 

It was a two days meeting in which researchers from all over the world gathered together to share the observational techniques they are using. Users and developers discussed newest advances in the field and exchanged ideas.

Elisenda was telling me about these 3D glasses that transported you inside a gigantic transparent brain in which you could observe a specific neuron from all possible angles. Exciting!  Pablo is there in the picture:

 

 

They were very impressed by everything they saw, and learned a lot! Albert said it was a very productive conference and can’t wait to have the chance to try some of these techniques in the lab. He also told me they were happy they had the chance to have a typical Swiss dinner: fondue, raclette and rösti. Fabien might not agree about this being a typical Swiss dinner and not a French one…

We will receive an ERC Proof of Concept Grant!

The European Research Council (ERC) has selected us for a Proof of Concept grant to develop a new research line focused on a novel approach to figh antibiotic resistances: the ResisTEST. This project, derived from the knowledge and experience gathered with NEUROMITO, has been chosen for its innovation potential, its significant impact and its quality, and will receive an amount of 150,000€ for a 18 month period. The objective is to bring closer to the market a new tool to help face one of the most important challenges that society will have to face within the next years: the antibiotic crisis. We are very glad to have this opportunity!

 

It’s all about energy!

Here it is the talk Albert gave for the first Federative Day for Neuroscience in Strasbourg, organized by Doctoneuro, on April 20th, 2018 – Nice summary about what mitochondrial diseases are and what work we do in the lab!

Research: Altered protein modifications in mitochondrial disease

Our latest paper is out!

In collaboration with the Frizzell lab at the University of South Carolina we have published the article titled:

Succination is increased on select proteins in the brainstem of the Ndufs4 knockout mouse, a model of Leigh syndrome.” 

in the journal Molecular and Cellular Proteomics.

In this paper, we have been able to identify that the metabolic deficits mediated by mitochondrial dysfunction (we used our Leigh Syndrome mice for this study) lead to permanent modifications in discrete proteins in affected neurons.

These modifications (called succination) have been shown to impair the activity of proteins in other studies, therefore we believe these mitochondrial proteins will also lose function in our model. Interestingly, our study shows that these modifications are only observed in cells residing in areas affected by the pathology, further enhancing the idea that they may mediate the selective damage observed in mitochondrial disease.

The main proteins observed to be altered, VDAC1 and VDAC2, are key factors controlling transport of ions and molecules inside the mitochondria, so these results open a new and interesting line of research in the lab in the overarching goal of finding a cure for mito disease.

 

 

 

The Quintana lab goes across the pond…

It has been an eventful couple of months for the Quintana lab.

It all started when we received a great offer to locate the lab at the Institute of Neurosciences at the Universitat Autonoma de Barcelona, in the outskirts of Barcelona, Spain and have our research funded by one of the prestigious ERC Starting Grants (NEUROMITO: more in current projects).

ercAfter some careful thought, we have decided that this is a great opportunity for the lab to grow and to pursue our goal of finding a cure for mitochondrial disease. This funding has allowed most of the lab to move to Barcelona and will sustain and enhance our research capability in the future.

Even though it is sad to leave Seattle and to say goodbye to our friends at Seattle Children’s Research Institute and the Northwest Mitochondrial Research Guild, we believe that this will be a positive move and that undoubtedly we will continue collaborating towards our common goal. We will always be in debt for the great opportunity, training and mentoring provided by our experience and colleagues in Seattle and we will continue to grow in Barcelona.

All “travelling” members: me (Albert), Eli, Alex, Irene and Kelsey are really looking forward to set our experiments up in Barcelona and we promise new and exciting updates soon! We are sad to leave Jessica and Ben behind, but we are sure they will have a bright and promising career in the future!

So, after a few years… we have to say: farewell Seattle and Welcome Barcelona!

 

 

Capcalera