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Enrico Cherubini

Synaptic plasticity

Enrico CherubiniFull Professor

Born in Roma in 1943, Enrico Cherubini got his M.D. Degree at the University of Roma in 1968. In 1972 he obtained the specialization degree in Child Neurology from the University of Roma and in EEG and Clinical Neurophysiology from the Universite’ Aix-Marseilles, France. After a first experience in Marseilles in 1971 (with H. Gastaut and R. Naquet) and in Los Angeles (UCLA, 1976-1978), in 1981 he joined Alan North at MIT in Boston where he remained until 1984. In 1984, he moved to INSERM, Unite’ 29 in Paris where he was appointed Directeur de Recherche. He remained in Paris until the end of 1991 when he moved back to Italy to SISSA as Full Professor in Physiology.

Please note that Prof. Cherubini retired at the end of 2013, therefore he will not be able to take on NEW PhD students. Nevertheless he is still present at SISSA for lectures at the PhD in Neurobiology course and to follow some still ongoing projects.

His major research interests are in developmental neurobiology and synaptic transmission. Together with Y. Ben-Ari in Paris he discovered the excitatory action of GABA during postnatal development and characterized network driven GABAA-mediated oscillatory activity in the immature hippocampus. Current research interests include molecular and cellular mechanisms underlying activity-dependent synaptic plasticity processes in the hippocampus during postnatal development.


Research Lines

Synaptic plasticity processes in the developing hippocampus and cortex

Combined electrophysiological, imaging and molecular biology approaches are used to study the molecular and cellular mechanisms underlying synaptic plasticity processes in the hippocampus and in the cortex during postnatal development and the microcircuits involved.

In particular, we are interested to understand:

1. How correlated network such as Giant Depolarizing Potentials (GDPs), generated by the synergistic action of glutamate and GABA, both depolarizing and excitatory, shape neuronal circuits early in postnatal life. Synchronous brain activities are crucial for information coding and are associated with high cognitive functions.

2. How these processes are altered in pathological conditions, in particular in neuro-developmental disorders such as Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD). We are especially interested to know how changes in neuronal excitability and synaptic signaling affects neuronal connectivity and the excitatory/inhibitory balance within local circuits in animal models of ASD.

3. How the scaffolding molecule gephyrin and cell adhesion molecules of the neuroligin families contribute to the development of inhibitory GABAergic synapses. We are currently investigating how signaling pathways, such as proline-directed phosphorylation, impacts on postsynaptic protein functions either in the context of targeting and stabilizing GABAA receptors at synapses or in regulating their dynamic interactions.


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