Homeostatic regulation of excitability and synaptic efficacy works in conjunction with acutely induced Hebbian plasticity to maintain neuron firing within limits and thus preserve network stability and information flow. There is general agreement that homeostatic plasticity can affect intrinsic properties (action potential duration controlling neurotransmission) or synaptic properties (unitary synaptic current amplitude, for example) and involves diverse molecular mechanisms. Dysfunctional homeostasis has been invoked as a basis for brain diseases such as autism spectrum disorders (ASD). Despite major effort, the molecular underpinnings of various forms of homeostatic adaptation are still not clear. In this project, we will examine various aspects of neuronal homeostasis with relevance to neuropsychiatric disorders. The first question is how neuronal inactivity initiates local signaling near postsynaptic CaV1 channels and causes propagation of signals to the nucleus to regulate alternative mRNA splicing (AS) and thus affect spike duration. We will extend our findings on how one ASD-related gene (CACNA1C, L-type Ca2+ channel subunit) controls the expression of another (KCNMA1, BK channel subunit). Our data suggest that signaling to the nucleus via bCaMKK (encoded by CAMKK2) plays a critical role in AS through effects on localization of the splice factor Nova-2. In another subproject, we will clarify how the same activity silencing affects synaptic properties, and the striking switchover of postsynaptic glutamate receptors from Ca2+-impermeable to Ca2+-permeable AMPA receptors. We will decipher how various signaling pathways, generating both negative and positive feedback, work in coordination to trigger a damped oscillatory response of synaptic properties following TTX silencing, a novel observation from our group. We will take studies of homeostasis to recurrent circuits in cultured hippocampal slices, using an all-optical approach to visualize reallocation of presynaptic weights following inactivity and their postsynaptic consequences. Each of the Aims are of relevance to disease states such as ASD and schizophrenia. Using a mouse model of Timothy Syndrome, a rare form of ASD, we will probe how physiological phenomena are altered in a pathogenic setting, for example exploring why inactivity-driven BK splicing is much more severe in Timothy Syndrome neurons and probing how this affects higher order functions of relevance to ASD.

Public Health Relevance

Synaptic strength must be regulated in the face of changing levels of input in order to ensure that neurons are able to maintain their output firing within reasonable limits. Homeostatic regulation of action potential duration and synaptic efficacy works in conjunction with acutely induced Hebbian plasticity to maintain network stability and information flow. This project will study the features and mechanisms of adaptation to chronic disuse aiming to advance our understanding of how cells remodel themselves, and shed light on abnormal responses in disease states, including autism spectrum disorders.

National Institute of Health (NIH)
National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH)
Research Project (R01)
Project #
Application #
Study Section
Synapses, Cytoskeleton and Trafficking Study Section (SYN)
Program Officer
Kim, Douglas S
Project Start
Project End
Budget Start
Budget End
Support Year
Fiscal Year
Total Cost
Indirect Cost
New York University
Schools of Medicine
New York
United States
Zip Code
Eyring, Katherine W; Tsien, Richard W (2018) Direct Visualization of Wide Fusion-Fission Pores and Their Highly Varied Dynamics. Cell 173:819-821
Tirko, Natasha N; Eyring, Katherine W; Carcea, Ioana et al. (2018) Oxytocin Transforms Firing Mode of CA2 Hippocampal Neurons. Neuron 100:593-608.e3
Cohen, Samuel M; Suutari, Benjamin; He, Xingzhi et al. (2018) Calmodulin shuttling mediates cytonuclear signaling to trigger experience-dependent transcription and memory. Nat Commun 9:2451
Rosenberg, Evan C; Louik, Jay; Conway, Erin et al. (2017) Quality of Life in Childhood Epilepsy in pediatric patients enrolled in a prospective, open-label clinical study with cannabidiol. Epilepsia 58:e96-e100
Mullins, Caitlin; Fishell, Gord; Tsien, Richard W (2016) Unifying Views of Autism Spectrum Disorders: A Consideration of Autoregulatory Feedback Loops. Neuron 89:1131-1156
Li, Boxing; Tadross, Michael R; Tsien, Richard W (2016) Sequential ionic and conformational signaling by calcium channels drives neuronal gene expression. Science 351:863-7
Poo, Mu-Ming; Pignatelli, Michele; Ryan, Tomás J et al. (2016) What is memory? The present state of the engram. BMC Biol 14:40
Cohen, Samuel M; Ma, Huan; Kuchibhotla, Kishore V et al. (2016) Excitation-Transcription Coupling in Parvalbumin-Positive Interneurons Employs a Novel CaM Kinase-Dependent Pathway Distinct from Excitatory Neurons. Neuron 90:292-307
Rink, Timothy J; Tsien, Louis Y; Tsien, Richard W (2016) Roger Yonchien Tsien (1952-2016). Nature 538:172
Cohen, Samuel M; Li, Boxing; Tsien, Richard W et al. (2015) Evolutionary and functional perspectives on signaling from neuronal surface to nucleus. Biochem Biophys Res Commun 460:88-99

Showing the most recent 10 out of 17 publications