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Potential Rotation Projects
1. The Role of Dopamine Transporter (DAT) Trafficking in Psychostimulant Addiction: This project is to determine whether membrane trafficking of the dopamine transporter is required for cocaine and amphetamine addiction. Our lab has developed a novel, AAV-mediated, in vivo molecular replacement strategy, that replaces wildytpe DAT with DAT trafficking dysregulated mutants in adult mice. Rotation students will assist in behaviorally assessing replacement mice as compared to controls, and will additionally use immumohistochemical approaches to validate mutant protein expression in dopamine neurons in situ. Students will gain experience in mouse behavior, brain dissection, preparation of brain slices, and immunhistochemical techniques in mouse brain.
2. The Role of Distal Translation in Acute DAT Regulation and Cocaine Responses. Recent studies suggest that many proteins that are key for synaptic transmission and synaptic plasticity are locally translated in distal processes, such as axons and dendrites. However, it is currently unknown whether DAT is regulated by local translation in striatal terminals and, if so, how cocaine addiction may impact this process. Rotation students will directly test this possibility by examining DAT biosynthesis in striatal tissue. Students will gain experience in brain dissection, protein biosynthesis studies, and quantitative immunoblotting.