Nandini Lab
Tulane University
This neuroendocrine lab is interested in understanding how signaling in the brain translates to social behaviors, using mice as a model system.
Field(s) of Research: Cell Biology, Endocrinology
Disease Focus: OTHER, OTHER
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Phone: 5048623158
2000 Percival Stern Hall
New Orleans, LA 70118
United States
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Understanding social and affiliative behaviors driven by estrogen and thyroid hormone signaling in the brain
Research in the laboratory focuses on two different projects, both of which investigate the molecular mechanisms of regulation of behavior by hormones

We wish to understand how signaling by small molecules in individual neurons or glia ultimately results in integrated behavior displayed by the whole animal. The model system that we use is the induction of social behaviors by nonclassical estrogen signaling.
Estrogens signal in two major mechanistic ways: a) classical genomic signaling resulting in regulation of genes and b) rapid, cell membrane-initiated signaling leading to kinase activation and calcium influx. The latter mode of signaling is called the non-genomic mode of signaling to distinguish it from genomic signaling; the relevance of this mechanism is controversial and not well understood.

We initially demonstrated that both these modes can be coupled to give potentiation of transcription. We are interested in investigating several aspects of this coupled signaling pathway, including the coupling mechanism. (Figure A below). Using the mouse as a model, we attempt to understand the physiological significance of such integration in behavior and neuronal morphology such as dendritic spines in behaviorally relevant areas.

Another hormone of clinical significance, whose action in the brain is poorly understood, is thyroid hormone. Currently, we use mouse models with either receptor loss or abnormal levels of thyroid hormones to probe the involvement of thyroid hormone in anxiety related syndromes using both mice behavior and gene expression assays.
Keywords estrogen, non-genomic, estrogen receptor, thyroid hormone receptor

Vasudevan N, Pfaff DW
Front Neuroendocrinol. 2008 May . 29(2):238-57.
Vasudevan N, Pfaff DW
Endocr Rev. 2007 Feb . 28(1):1-19.