Research Group of Dr Christine M. Gall, University of California, Irvine

Research Group of Dr Christine M. Gall, University of California, Irvine

Dr Christine M. Gall is a Professor at the University of California, Irvine. She is on the faculty of the Department of Anatomy & Neurobiology and the Department of Neurobiology & Behavior. Dr Gall is also a member and an officer of the Society for Neuroscience .

Christine’s Lab focuses its research work on the mechanisms of functional plasticity in the adult central nervous system and, in particular, the roles of endogenous neurotrophic factors and integrin adhesion proteins in synaptic plasticity. Current studies are investigating the cellular mechanisms through which synaptic activity modulates spine actin polymerization and the roles of these processes in the stabilization of synaptic morphology and potentiation. More particularly, studies are testing roles of brain derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF) and integrin signaling in these processes. Other studies are testing the use of positive AMPA receptor modulators (ampakines) to modulate BDNF expression for therapeutic purposes.

Dr Gall completed her PhD in Biological Sciences in1978 at the University of California, Irvine, followed by a year Postdoctoral work at the Psychobiology Department. She did postdoctoral research in the Department of Neurology at the State University of New York, Stony Brook. After her Postdoctoral works, Christine joined the Department of Anatomy as an Assistant Professor for four years which then lead to advancements in the same department. Dr Gall is now an internationally known researher in the field of neuroscience.

Dr Gall and colleagues say “We currently use Volocity to visualize and quantify immunofluorescent labeling of synaptic proteins in hippocampal slices used for electrophysiological studies. The slices receive electrical stimulation in region CA1 to induce long-term potentiation (see Chen et al., 2007 for description of the physiology), a phenomenon widely believed to be the biological basis of memory encoding. The slices are then fixed and labeled using common immunofluorescent techniques. Images are acquired at 63X on a Leica DM6000 microscope equipped with the Hamamatsu ORCA-ER camera via Volocity acquisition software. We then deconvolve the Z-series (0.2 um steps, 3 um thickness) photomicrographs by iterative restoration.

Since we need to quantify the entire homogeneous field, we deconvolve through the extent of the height, width and depth of the z-stack. Originally, on a dual processor computer, this process took about 4 hours. We then purchased a dual quadcore computer (8 processors) to handle this and it takes about 20-40 min for each z-stack. Even so, we process about 50-80 z-stacks per experimental set, which we run nearly everyday. So this machine is now dedicated to this task and is deconvolving virtually every second of the day and night. We are extremely pleased with the results. The images are very clean and noise-free. The 3D visualization module makes it very convenient to examine the spatial relationship between various elements within the z-stack. Most importantly, we are able to use the deconvolved images to automatically identify elements within the images for quantification. We then use both the Volocity Measurement module, which is very fast and convenient for basic object identification, in combination with our own in-house built software for quantitative analysis of labeling patterns and densities.M

The first image here shows a field of synapses, at the upper surface of the tissue slice, with labeling for PSD95 (green), a synaptic protein we use to mark all excitatory synapses and for phosphorylated-cofilin (red), an indicator of synaptic activation. The second image is of yellow-fluorescent protein (YFP) labeling cortical neurons in mouse. We are currently quantifying the size and numbers of dendritic spines on cortical pyramidal neurons in models of autism spectrum disorder and mental retardation. Images are deconvolved in Volocity and quantified by stereology. Images below were provided by Lulu Chen, a graduate student in the lab who is the primary user of Volocity. We have found the Improvision Company to be very helpful in advising and working with us to achieve our research goals.”

For more information about the research in Christine’s lab please visit their web page.