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Marco Beato

Department of Neuroscience, Physiology and Pharmacology (NPP)

Premotor neural networks in the ventral spinal cord

My current research is focussed on the characterization of premotor interneurons in the ventral horn of the spinal cord. Premotor networks are involved in all motor circuits and are responsible for the coordination of locomotor activity and for the execution and tuning of all motor tasks. My main aim is to describe the properties of the network of premotor interneurons in relation to their function and to characterize individual synaptic connections. In the past I have studied the kinetic of glycine receptors using single channel recordings and fast concentration jumps techniques, combined with mathematical modeling and kinetic analysis. Now I am using electrophysiological recordings to record from multiple cells and from synaptically connected interneuron-motoneuron pairs in slices or in the en-bloc spinal cord.

In collaboration with Professors Andrew Todd and David Maxwell (University of Glasgow) we have characterized glycinergic premotor interneurons and measured the strength of Renshaw cells synapses onto motoneurons. We will now use a rabies based trans-synaptic tracer to label networks of flexor and extensor related premotor interneurons and to drive the expression of channelrhodopsin. Our aim is to determine a map of functional connectivity and to relate it to the electrophysiological and neurochemical profiles of premotor interneurons.

Quantal analysis methods and kinetic modeling are used to characterize the properties of synapses.

Available projects

1) The pattern of connectivity between synergist and antagonist motor pools

2) Characterization of the recurrent feedback inhibition in the motoneurons-Renshaw cell circuit in the spinal cord.

Recent selected publications

Bhumbra,GS., Moore,NJ., Moroni, M., Beato, M.
Co-release of GABA does not occur at glycinergic synapses onto lumbar motoneurons in juvenile mice.
Front. Cell. Neurosci
. 6: 8 Epub Mar 21 (2012) doi:10.3389/fncel.2012.00008

Bhumbra, GS., Beato, M.
Reliable evaluation of the quantal determinants of synaptic efficacy using Bayesian analysis.
J Neurophysiol
. 109(2), 603-620 (2013)

Bhumbra, GS., Bannatyne, BA. Watanabe, M. Todd, AJ., Maxwell, DJ., Beato, M.
The recurrent case for Renshaw cells
J Neurosci
. 34(38): 12919-12932 (2014)


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