FY2020 Annual Report

Neuronal Rhythms in Movement (nRIM) unit
Assistant Professor Marylka Yoe Uusisaari

nRIM in April 2020, observing safe distancing. Top row (from left to right): Bogna Ignatowska-Jankowska, Lakshmipriya Swaminathan, Salvatore Lacava, Kevin Dorgans; Middle row, Kayoko Ikeda, Deviana David, Guo Da; Front row: Aysen Gurgan Ozer, yoe. 


The main accomplishment of the nRIM unit in the year of COVID-19 pandemic is that everyone has remained alive and relatively healthy and productive througout the year, despite the mental burden of being isolated from our families, friends and recreational activities in a foreign country. This has been possible because of the entire team's commitment to supporting each other and standing in for tasks when needed. Throughout the year we have kept on working in constantly changing COVID situation, merging physical and virtual presence as demanded, adjusted our experimental and career plans, keeping focus on doing the best we can with what we have. 

1. Staff

  • Dr. Da Guo, post-doctoral researcher
  • Dr. Kevin Dorgans, post-doctoral researcher
  • Dr. Bogna Ignatowska-Jankowska, Postdoctoral Scholar
  • Dr. Aysen Gurkan Ozer, Research Unit Technician
  • Mr. Salvatore Andrea Lacava, PhD student (JSPS fellow)
  • Ms. Lakshmipriya Swaminathan, PhD student
  • Ms. Deviana David, PhD student
  • Ms. Kayoko Ikeda, Research Unit Administrator

2. Collaborations

External collaborations:

  • The laboratory of Dr. Benjamin Cravatt, The Skaggs Institute for Chemical Biology and Department of Chemical Physiology, The Scripps Research Institute, La Jolla, CA, USA.
  • The laboratory of Dr. Sylvia Fitting at the Department of Psychology and Neuroscience at University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill
  • Department of Biopharmacy at the Medical University of Lublin, Poland.
  • Laboratory of Dr. Leonard Khiroug, University of Helsinki, Finland
  • Laboratory of Dr. Andrea Giovannucci, University of North Carolina - Chapel Hill, USA
  • Laboratory of Dr. Albert Chen, NTU Singapore
  • Laboratory of Dr. Philippe Isope, INCI, CNRS, Strasbourg, France
  • Dr. Aurelien Laguerre, OHSU, Portland, Oregon, USA
  • Dr. Yunliang Zang, Brandeis University, Waltham, USA

Internal collaborations:

  • Human neurobiology unit (Prof. Gail Tripp)
  • Computational neuroscience unit (Prof. Erik De Schutter)
  • Optical neuroimaging unit (Prof. Bernd Kuhn)
  • Neurobiology research unit (Prof. Jeff Wickens)
  • Memory research unit (Prof. Kazumasa Tanaka)
  • Immune signal unit (Prof. Hiroki Ishikawa)
  • Biological physics theory unit (Prof. Greg Stephens)

3. Activities and Findings

  1. Project: Kinematic signatures of endocannabinoid system function (Project leader: Dr. Ignatowska-Jankowska; other participants: Dr. Gurkan, Ms. Lakshmipriya Swaminathan): in FY20, the team conducted several large-scale experimental protocols, expanding the behavioral tasks to include a circular treadmill built of a repurposed turntable. Extensive amount of software development was taking place to allow flexible and powerful analysis of the large volume of data obtained.
  2. Project: In vivo fluorescent imaging of inferior olive network activity (Project leader: Dr. Guo, in collaboration with Dr. Dorgans): in FY20, new experimental and algorithmic tools were built in parallel with experimental data acquisition. The first publication from this project was accepted for press in March 2021.
  3. Project: In vitro investigation of calcium dynamics underlying subthreshold oscillations in the inferior olive (Project leader: Dr. Dorgans). In FY20, a breakthrough in viral vector construction (publication under preparation) led to significant expansion of the possibilities at our reach regarding the calcium dynamics in IO.
  4. Project: Investigation of network dynamics with in vitro fluorescent imaging in the inferior olive  (Project leader: Dr. Dorgans). In FY20, the results from novel fluorescent imaging probe development were published for in vitro experimentation, and the work continues to extend the capabilities for in vivo usage.
  5. PhD project (Salvatore Lacava): A study on the neuronal control of mouse tail in balance. In FY20, the new set-up for behavioral experiments to test the response of mouse tail to a balance perturbation was tested on 15 mice, and the code to analyze the dataset collected was written in python to allow flexible and in detail investigation of the kinematic of the tail during the task. The virus injections in tail muscles was successfull in labeling retrogradely the alpha motoneurons that control lateral tail movements.
  6. PhD project (Lakshmipriya Swaminathan): Elucidating the organisation principles of motor control in mice using the Lagrangian formulation. In FY20, a new protocol for carrying out behavioral experiments of mice locomoting on straight and circular treadmills was developed.  Novel data analysis techniques based on dynamical systems theory were developed in parallel with the experiments.
  7. PhD project (Deviana David): Sensory modulation of olivocerebellar system: study of superior colliculus to inferior olive (SC-IO) Pathway. In FY20, a connectomics study is performed to identify connections between two evolutionary conserved regions, the superior colliculus and the inferior olive (which is part of olivocerebellar system) in mice. Data from this study is indispensible in conducting future in-vivo experiments. 

4. Publications

4.1 Journals​

  1. Orçun Orkan Özcan, Xiaolu Wang, Francesca Binda, Kevin Dorgans, Chris De Zeeuw, Zhenyu Gao, Ad Aertsen, Arvind Kumar, Philippe Isope. Differential coding strategies in glutamatergic and GABAergic neurons in the medial cerebellar nucleus. Journal of Neuroscience 40 (1) 159-170.  https://doi.org/10.1523/JNEUROSCI.0806-19.2019

  2. Isabelle Straub, Laurens Witter, Abdelmoneim Eshra, Miriam Hoidis, Niklas Byczkowicz, Sebastian Maas, Igor Delvendahl, Kevin Dorgans, Elise Savier, Ingo Bechmann, Martin Krueger, Philippe Isope, Stefan Hallermann. Gradients in the mammalian cerebellar cortex enable Fourier-like transformation and improve storing capacity. eLife. doi: https://doi.org/10.7554/eLife.51771

  3. Neil Dalphin, Kevin Dorgans, Eugene Khaskin, Bernd Kuhn. Voltage imaging of cortical oscillations in layer1 with two-photon microscopy.   eNeuro.  https://doi.org/10.1523/ENEURO.0274-19.2020

  4. Hermes DJ, Jacobs IR, Key MC, League AF, Yadav-Samudrala BJ, Xu C, McLane VD, Nass SR, Jiang W, Meeker RB, Ignatowska-Jankowska BM, Lichtman AH, Li Z, Wu Z, Yuan H, Knapp PE, Hauser KF, and Fitting S. (2020) Escalating morphine dosing in HIV-1 Tat transgenic mice with sustained Tat exposure leads to an allostatic shift in neuroinflammatory regulation accompanied by increased neuroprotective non-endocannabinoid lipid signaling molecules and amino acids. Journal of Neuroinflammation 17, 345. https://doi.org/10.1186/s12974-020-01971-6

  5. Dorgans K, Kuhn B, Uusisaari MY(2020) Imaging subthreshold voltage oscillation with cellular resolution in the inferior olive in vitro. Frontiers.  https://doi.org/10.3389/fncel.2020.607843

  6. Hermes DJ, Yadav-Samudrala BJ, Xu C, Paniccia JC, Meeker RB, Armstrong ML, Reisdorph N, Cravatt BF, Mackie K, Lichtman AH, Ignatowska-Jankowska BM,  Lysle DT, Fitting S. Title: GPR18 drives FAAH inhibition-induced neuroprotection against HIV-1 Tat-induced neurodegeneration. Experimental Neurology, in press

  7. Guo, D., Gurkan-Ozer, A., Uusisaari, M.Y. In vivo Calcium Imaging in Mouse Inferior Olive. J. Vis. Exp., e62222, doi:10.3791/62222 (2021)  


4.2 Books and other one-time publications

4.3 Oral and Poster Presentations​

  1. Science Digest Talk:
    Dr. Kevin Dorgans on "In vitro imaging of subthreshold voltage oscillation in the inferior olive"
        - Date: Thursday, October 22, 2020
        - Place: C209, OIST and Zoom

  2. Science Digest Talk:
    Dr. Ignatowska-Jankowska on "Distinct behavioral effects of cannabinoids in 3D motion capture of freely moving mice"
        - Date: Monday, June 29, 2020
        - Place: C700, OIST and Zoom

  3. Poster presentation at the Federation of European Neuroscience Societies (FENS) Virtual FENS Forum: Ignatowska-Jankowska B,Gurkan-Ozer A., Kuck A, Micah Niphakis, Daisuke Ogasawara, Benjamin F Cravatt,Uusisaari MY.  Distinct behavioral effects of cannabinoids in 3D motion capture of freely moving mice Virtual FENS Forum 2020,  1-15 July.

  4. Poster presentation at the 43rd Annual Meeting of Japan Neuroscience Society (JNS): Guo D, Dorgans K, Uusisaari MY. In vivo network activity of mouse inferior olive neurons. JNS, July 29 - August 1, 2020

  5. Poster presentation at the 43rd Annual Meeting of Japan Neuroscience Society (JNS): Lacava SA, Uusisaari MY. The mouse tail response to a balance perturbation. JNS, July 29 - August 1, 2020.

  6. Poster Presentation Prize at "PDS research summit 2020" in Stellenbosch University, Western Cape, South Africa: Dorgans K, November, 2020.

  7. Presentation at the Society for Neuroscience (SfN) Global Connectome Virtual Event. Ignatowska-Jankoowska B, Gurkan-Ozer A., Kuck A, Niphakis M,  Ogasawara D, Cravatt BF, Uusisaary MY.  Rodent 3D Motion Capture system uncovers distinct behavioral effects of cannabinoids in freely moving mice. SfN, January 11-13th 2021
  8. Poster Presentation at the Society for Neuroscience (SfN) Global Connectome Virtual Event. Dorgans K., Kuhn B., Uusisaari MY.. Imaging subthreshold voltage oscillation with cellular resolution in the inferior olive in vitro. SfN, January 12th 2021

4.4 Seminars at Research Institutes

Due to COVID, several planned seminars were cancelled.


5.  Other Specific Achievements

5.1 Awards

  • Prof. Uusisaari was awarded the Excellence in Graduate Teaching award for FY2020.
  • Ignatowska-Jankowska BM: FENS-IBRO/PERC grant for attendance of virtual FENS Forum 2020, 11-15 July 2020 (450 EUR)
  • Dorgans K: Poster Presentation Prize at "PDS research summit 2020" in Stellenbosch University, Western Cape, South Africa. November 2020

6. Zoom seminars hosted by nRIM unit

6.1.   A cerebellar nexus to feeding, satiation and dopamine signaling.

  • Date: Oct 20th, 2020
  • Speaker: Prof. Albert Chen ( University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill)

6.2.  Enabling real-time brain-machine interfaces via tensor-based computing

  • Date: Nov 4th, 2020
  • Speaker: Prof. Andrea Giovannucci ( University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill)

6.3.  Effects of Locomotion on Visual Responses in the Mouse Superior Colliculus

  • Date: Nov 11th, 2020
  • Speaker: Prof. Elise Savier ( Departments of Biology and Psychology, University of Virginia)

6.4. Bi-allelic PAX5 mutations in humans result in complex disease phenotype, recapitulated by the murine model

  • Date: Nov 24th, 2020
  • Speaker: Prof. Aleksandra Badura (Erasmus MC, Netherlands)

6.5. How cerebellar connectivity maps relate to adaptive behavior?

  • Date: Jan 27th, 2021
  • Speaker: Dr. Ludovic Spaeth ( University of Strasbourg, France)

7. Other

7.1 Joint Cerebellar Journal Club

The joint journal club with specific focus on cerebellar research papers, with the Computational Neuroscience Unit and the Optical Neuroimaging Unit was extended with few members from other OIST units interested in olivo-cerebellar systems in FY 2020. During the year, the JCJC met on Zoom 14 times, with presentations alternating between the laboratories.

7.2 Events at OIST

There have been no events.