Scientific Tools

Scientific tool list

Mouse genetics

To study gene functions and diseases mechanisms in vivo, we use genetically modified mice, as examples:

  • Mouse lines with clinically-relevant genetic variants (e.g. 22q11.2, 16p11.2, COMT Val, COMT ko, Dysbindin-1, 1A, 1C, Arc/Arg3.1, D2L, D3, DAT, CRF/CRF1, CRF/CRF2, NRG1-IV, CB1, OXT, and double mutants with different combinations).
  • Floxed and Cre transgenic mouse lines to investigate site-, time- and cell-type specific mechanisms.
    Main brain regions of interest: prefrontal cortex, amygdala, hypothalamus, postero-parietal cortex.
    Developmental time: perinatal, pre-adolescence, adolescence, adulthood.
    Cell types: pyramidal neurons, SOM+ and PV+ interneurons, astrocytes, and microglia.
    Systems: dopamine, oxytocin, CRF and cannabinoids.
In vivo Fiber Photometry

Fibre photometry uses the intensity-based genetically encoded indicators for calcium  (GCaMP) or dopamine (dLight1) to assess the neural activity of defined subpopulations of neurons through an optic fibre in freely moving animals. This technique allows us to record with a high spatiotemporal resolution neural activity in the nucleus accumbens, amygdala and prefrontal cortex, while animals are performing our cognitive or social tasks.

Cell and molecular biology

Despite we are prevalently an in vivo laboratory, we employ classical techniques to both validate our models and get insights into the cellular and molecular mechanisms involved in the behavioural alterations we investigate.

We perform mRNA and protein quantifications through real-time PCR, western blot and ELISA tests. We analyse cell populations proportions in neural and immune samples, by fluorescence-based flow cytometry, and select specific cell populations by fluorescence-activated cell sorting (FACS) for gene expression analyses. Finally, we investigate cell and tissue morphology by cutting-edge fluorescence and confocal microscopes.