Our latest paper came out recently, and this one’s important – hopefully the first of many in a fruitful collaboration with Jon Mill & Chloe Wong in the Complex Disease Epigenomics Group. Jon and Chloe’s labs study epigenetic changes to the physical structure of DNA that affect how specific genes are activated. We combined their expertise in this field with our interest in neuronal plasticity to start looking at how alterations in neuronal activity can produce epigenetic modifications. Using cultured neurons, our paper shows that increasing electrical activity can produce significant changes in DNA methylation across the genome. We then go on to show that a large number of these changes are dependent upon signalling through CaV1 calcium channels and the calcium-dependent phosphatase calcineurin, two inter-related pathways known to mediate multiple forms of neuronal plasticity. This makes us think that epigenetic plasticity forms an important component of the neuronal repertoire of responses to altered activity, acting alongside other forms of plasticity controlled by the same intracellular signalling molecules. If you’d like to know more, the full text is Open Access at the new journal Neuroepigenetics here – enjoy!
Elsewhere, the lab can’t seem to stop winning prizes! Adna, not content with organising a spectacular and phenomenally successful ‘Glow in the science @ KCL’ exhibit at the recent Brixton TechnoPop event, was joint winner of the department’s 3rd-year PhD student talk prize at our recent KCL Postgraduate Research Symposium. Not to be outdone, Elisa went to an event at the Italian embassy and came away with the ‘Italy made me’ prize for Life Sciences. Think we’re going to have to get a trophy cabinet for all these…
Meanwhile, Chris successfully completed her 3rd MRes rotation, Marwa is busy collecting a
mountain of imaging data, and Matt had a great time meeting a bunch of fellow olfaction enthusiasts at this year’s UK Semiochemistry Network meeting in Cambridge. And last but by no means least, the annual Grubb Lab BBQ extravaganza was held early this year, with Matt pleading toddler-induced exhaustion and cheating by taking everyone up the pub! At least there was the opportunity for playtime afterwards – maybe it shouldn’t be a great surprise that drunk scientists plus kids’ toys equals competitive mayhem?