Department of Biological Sciences
Dr. Roychowdhury’s research program is focused on understanding the Cytoskeletal mechanisms of alcohol/nicotine dependence.
Significance of the work: Alcoholism and tobacco use are major public health and economic concerns. Despite the near-universal co-occurrence of alcohol and nicotine abuse, surprisingly little is known about the underlying mechanisms that modulate the development of dependence following alcohol and nicotine exposure and withdrawal. Studies suggest that changes in the cytoskeletal architecture of neurons may provide a mechanism by which long-lasting plasticity modulates behavioral changes produced by chronic drug addiction. Therefore, our strategy is to elucidate the molecular mechanism(s) that lead to disruption of cytoskeleton in neurons in response to alcohol and nicotine exposure. We utilize a transdisciplinary approach involving an animal model of alcohol/nicotine dependence and in-vitro cell culture systems to address this emerging problem. Specifically, we are focusing on components of G protein mediated signaling (Gbg and AGS3) in mediating cytoskeletal alterations in alcohol/nicotine dependence.
Methods to be learned: A wide range of cellular, molecular techniques will be used to conduct the study, including cell and tissue cultures, brain sectioning and immunocytochemistry, subcellular fractionation, western blot and immunoprecipitation, gene-knockdown and overexpression, confocal-scanning microscopy, and live-cell imaging. Thus, summer undergraduate students and high school teachers in Dr. Roychowdhury’s laboratory will be exposed to standard and cutting-edge techniques in the field of neuroscience.