Justin Barnes

Ph.D. 2011

Thesis Title:

Climbing Fiber-Purkinje Cell Dysfunction in ATXN1 Mice

Current Position:

Medical Science Liaison at Shire Pharmaceuticals

Undergraduate Institution and Major/Degree:

Michigan State University (2002), BS in Biochemistry and Molecular Biology

Major Advisor(s):

Research Description:

Formation of topologically precise, functional synapses is requisite for maturation of the nervous system, as well as for the development of proper motor behaviors. Specifically, climbing fibers (CF) originating in the inferior olivary nucleus of the brainstem send excitatory projections to Purkinje cells (PC) in the cerebellar cortex, contacting them on the soma and proximal dendrites. Early in development PCs are contacted by several CFs. Extraneous CF projections are recessively eliminated in a higly-regulated manner such that each PC is contacted by only one CF in the adult cerebellum. This one-to-one relationship is appears to be essential for proper synaptogenesis of parallel fiber (PF)-PC synapses, as well as motor coordination in the adult. Our recent findings suggest abnormal cerebellar circuitry in a mouse model of spinocerebellar ataxia type 1 (SCA1) that may be a consequence of aberrations in a development plan. I plan to use flavoprotein autoflurescence imaging, behavioral studies, and cellular and molecular approaches to examine the underlying cause(s) that result in cerebellar abnormalities in a conditional SCA1 mouse model.

Lab Rotations:

  • Harry Orr
  • Tim Ebner
  • Walter Low

Courses Taken Beyond the Core Courses:

  • NSc 8217: Systems and Computational Neuroscience
  • GCD 8213: Selected Topics in Molecular Biology

Conferences Attended and Presentations:

  • Society for Neuroscience Annual Meeting Fall 2005, 2006

Committee Members:

  • Tim Ebner
  • Harry Orr

Selected Publications:

  • Barnes JA, Ebner BA, Duvick LA, Gao W, Chen G, Orr HT, Ebner TJ. Abnormalities in the climbing fiber-Purkinje cell circuitry contribute to neuronal dysfunction in ATXN1[82Q] mice. J Neurosci. 2011 Sep 7;31(36):12778-89.

Awards and Honors:

  • Fellowship on NIH Training Grant:
    Translational Research in Neurobiology of Disease

Professional Memberships:

  • Society for Neuroscience

Home Town:

  • Midland, Michigan
Justin Barnes