Title of my talk: Aberrant synaptic plasticity in mouse models of Autism Spectrum Disorder

Abstract: Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) is an increasingly common neurodevelopmental disorder, affecting more than 1% of the population. Despite many years of scientific interest, the molecular basis of the disorder is still far from clear. This is mainly due to the polygenic (over a hundred contributing genes) character of the disorder. Moreover, only 10-15% of cases are associated with monogenic disorders such as Fragile X mental retardation syndrome (FXS), Rett’s syndrome (RTT) or tuberous sclerosis complex (TSC). Growing evidence strongly suggests that the core symptoms of ASD, such as social interaction and communication impairments and repetitive, stereotypic behaviours can be ameliorated by genetic and pharmacological treatment aimed at normalization of synaptic plasticity. Here I will present data on how local inhibition of matrix metalloproteinase-9 (MMP-9) rescues morphological and functional synaptic plasticity in two mouse models of ASD, namely BTBR T+ Itpr3tf/J and Fmr1KO mice, representing respectively an idiopathic and monogenic form of ASD.

 Bio: Dr Ksenia Meyza works at the Laboratory of Emotions’ Neurbiology at the Nencki Institute of Experimental Biology, where she studies aberrant synaptic plasticity in two mouse models of Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD), namely the BTBR T+ Itpr3tf/J and Fmr1KO mice. Her project focuses on overexpression of extracellular matrix proteinases disturbing the formation of mature dendritic spines and its role in the development of abnormal social and repetitive behaviour in these mice. Prior to commencement of this project she did a postdoctoral training at the University of Hawaii at Manoa, USA working in the laboratory of Professors Bob and Carolyn Blanchard and a training at the Department of Psychology, Brock University, Canada in the group of Professor Stefan Brudzynski. Her main field of expertise is behavioural analysis with main focus on social behaviours and communication. She also applies molecular biology techniques in her research.