35 – SynGAP modulates the body’s biological clock: What Syngap1 mice can tell us about light & sleep

Event Time

June 10, 2021 at 5:00 pm


Here are the introductory comments:

Our talk for today is “SynGAP Modulates the Body’s Biological Clock: What Syngap1 Mice Can Tell Us About Light & Sleep.”

I have the pleasure to introduce today’s speaker, Dr. Sydney Aten.

She obtained her PhD in Neuroscience from Ohio State University. She worked as a doctoral student in the lab of Dr. Min Zhou researching basic astrocyte physiology and the effects of chronic stress on astrocyte gap junction coupling. Related to SYNGAP, she is the first author on an important paper “SynGAP is Expressed in the Murine Suprachiasmatic Nucleus and Regulated Circadian-Gated Locomotor Activity and Light Entrainment Capacity.”

Her interest is researching the molecular/cellular underpinnings of circadian clock entrainment, cognition, and mood.

She is also an aspiring astronaut!

Webinar Overview

Dr. Sydney Aten received her PhD from Ohio State University and worked as a doctoral student in Dr. Min Zhou’s lab in the department of neuroscience. To start, she talks about how SYNGAP1 haploinsufficiency leads to sleep abnormalities. She then explains how sleep is regulated by two main processes: homeostatic drive – being the propensity for sleep, and circadian rhythm, a rhythm that responds to light and dark. The circadian rhythm is governed by the SCN in the hippocampus – the body’s “master clock.” Through their research, they found that SynGAP is expressed in the SCN, and that SynGAP SCN expression is rhythmic and induced by light. Next, she talks about the ERK/MAPK pathway, an important signaling pathway for the circadian rhythm. SynGAP is a negative regulator of Ras, part of the ERK/MAPK pathway, and thus is a negative regulator of this critical pathway. In their lab, they have done studies with mice to see how SYNGAP1 alters their behavior. Through these studies, they found that SYNGAP1 Het mice display enhanced light-evoked ERK activation and behavioral phase shifting capacity. She closes the webinar with future ways to research mechanisms of increased light sensitivity in Het mice.

Other Relevant Publications by Dr. Aten

SynGAP is expressed in the murine suprachiasmatic nucleus and regulates circadian-gated locomotor activity and light-entrainment capacity

Light-induced changes in the suprachiasmatic nucleus transcriptome regulated by the ERK/MAPK pathway