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Sala Carlo

salaDirector of research
c/o Università di Milano - Bicocca
Via Raoul Follereau, 3
20854 Vedano al Lambro

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tel. 02 64488372


Cellular and molecular mechanisms of synaptic plasticity


Research summary

A basic question in neurobiology is how neuronal activity causes long lasting changes in synaptic structure and function that may contribute to learning and memory. Synapses are the sites of most information processing in the brain, and changes in the molecular composition of the pre- and post-synaptic compartments are likely critical for the modulation of synaptic efficacy in normal and pathological conditions. My laboratory is interested in understanding the functions of proteins which regulate synapses formation and plasticity.  sala 1







Using in vivo and in vitro models, including hiPS cell derived neurons, we are particularly interested in studying the function of proteins such as Shank, IL1RAPL1 and MeCP2, which are codified by genes mutated or deleted in patients affected by intellectual disabilities and autism spectrum disorders. We are also extensively studying how synapse activity regulates protein translation and excitation/inhibition balance in normal and pathological conditions.

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Representative publications

Vicidomini C, Ponzoni L, Lim L, Schmeisser M, Reim D, Morello N, Orelanna D, Tozzi A, Durante V, Scalmani P, Mantegazza M, Genazzani AA, Giustetto M, Sala M, Calabresi P, Boeckers TM, Sala C, Verpelli C (2016)
Pharmacological enhancement of mGlu5 receptors rescues behavioral deficits in SHANK3 knock-out mice. Mol Psychiatry (in press).

Heise C, Taha E, Murru L, Ponzoni L, Cattaneo A, Guarnieri FC, Montani C, Mossa A, Vezzoli E, Ippolito G, Zapata J, Barrera I, Ryazanov AJ, Cook J, Poe M, Stephen M, Kopanitsa M, Benfante R, Rusconi F, Braida D, Francolini M, Proud CG, Valtorta F, Passafaro M, Sala M, Bachi A, Verpelli C, Rosenblum K, Sala C (2016)
eEF2K/eEF2 pathway controls the excitation/inhibition balance and susceptibility to epileptic seizures Cereb Cortex (in press).

Sala C, Segal M (2014)
Dendritic spines: the locus of structural and functional plasticity. Physiological Reviews 94(1):141-188.

Verpelli C, Sala C (2012)
Molecular and synaptic defects in intellectual disability syndromes. Curr Opin Neurobiol. 22(3):530-6.

Valnegri P, Montrasio C, Brambilla D, Ko J, Passafaro M, Sala C (2011)
The X-linked intellectual disability protein IL1RAPL1 regulates excitatory synapse formation by binding PTP{delta} and RhoGAP2. Hum Mol Genet. 20:4797-809.

Verpelli C, Dvoretskova E, Vicidomini C, Rossi F, Chiappalone M, Schoen M, Di Stefano B, Mantegazza R, Broccoli V, Boeckers TM, Dityatev A, Sala C (2011)
Importance of shank3 in regulating metabotropic glutamate receptor 5 (mGluR5) expression and signaling at synapses. J Biol Chem. 286:34839-50.

Verpelli C, Piccoli G, Zibetti C, Zanchi A, Gardoni F, Huang K, Brambilla D, Di Luca M, Battaglioli E, Sala C. (2010)
Synaptic activity controls dendritic spine morphology by modulating eEF2-dependent BDNF synthesis. J Neurosci. 30(17):5830-42

Pavlowsky P, Gianfelice A, Pallotto M, Zanchi A, Vara H, Khelfaoui M, Valnegri P, Rezai X, Bassani S, Brambilla D, Kumpost J, Blahos J, Roux MJ, Humeau Y, Chelly J, Passafaro M, Giustetto M, Billuart P, Sala C. (2010)
A postsynaptic signaling pathway that may account for the cognitive defect due to IL1RAPL1 mutation. Curr Biol. 20(2):103-15.