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Marco Beato

Department of Neuroscience, Physiology & Pharmacology

Glycinergic inhibition in the ventral spinal cord

Glycine is the main inhibitory transmitter in the spinal cord and glycinergic neurones are involved in all motor circuits, like the recurrent inhibition of motoneurones (through Renshaw cells) or stretch reflex control (through Ia interneurones) and left-right alternation during locomotion (through commissural interneurones whose axons cross the midline of the spinal cord).

My research is focussed on the properties of glycine activated channels and glycinergic synapses in the ventral horn of the spinal cord. In particular I want to understand how the kinetic properties of post-synaptic receptors and the properties of neurotransmitter release influence the shape and strength of the synaptic response.

I have studied the kinetic of glycine receptors using single channel recordings and fast concentration jumps techniques, combined with mathematical modelling and kinetic analysis. Now I am using the whole cell patch clamp configuration to record from single cells or from synaptically connected inhibitory interneurones-motoneurones pairs in slices or in the en bloc spinal cord. Quantal analysis methods and kinetic modelling are used to characterize the properties of glycinergic synapses.


1) Anatomical and electrophysiological characterization of Renshaw cells-motoneurones synapses in the mouse lumbar spinal cord

2) Glycine and GABA: can co-release shape the inhibitory post-synaptic potentials?

3) Metabolic regulation of synaptic inhibition in the developing spinal cord


Houston,C.M., Bright,D.P., Sivilotti,L.G. Beato, M.†, Smart, T.G.† (2009)
Intracellular chloride ions regulate the time-course of GABA-mediated inhibitory synaptic transmission
J. Neurosci. 29(33):10416-23

Marcaggi,P., Mutoh, H., Dimitrov,D. Beato,M., Knöpfel, T. (2009)
Optical measurement of mGluR1 conformational changes reveals fast activation, slow deactivation and sensitization
Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 106(27):11388-93

M. Beato
The time course of transmitter at glycinergic synapses onto motoneurons.
J. Neurosci. 28 (29): 7412-7425 (2008)

S.J. Pitt, L.G. Sivilotti, M. Beato
High Intracellular Chloride Slows the Decay of Glycinergic Currents
J. Neurosci. 28(45):11454 –11467 (2008)


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