Dr. Anita Quintana
Department of Biological Sciences
Dr. Quintana's laboratory discovered a heterozygous mutation in the GABRA1 gene as a cause for seizure disorders. Her lab uses zebrafish to understand how loss of this gene can cause behavioral deficits in zebrafish. During these studies, Dr. Quintana and her laboratory identified a wealth of literature connecting polymorphisms and mutations in the GABRA genes and GABAergic system with addictive behavior. Her lab is now working on characterizing how heterozygous missense variants in the GABRA1 gene alter behavioral responses after acute exposure to alcohol.
Relation to addiction studies
A vast amount of literature has documented associations between GABRA genes and addiction. However, these studies are complex. Our work is using an early exposure model to investigate how early exposure (similar to in utero exposure) would affect later stage responses to alcohol. We use many different technique in the lab but we train students in molecular biology, animal husbandry, and early behavioral assays specific to behavior.
Significance of the work
Our work is significant because it has the potential to demonstrate 1) the effects of early alcohol exposure on addictive behavior and 2) if genetic polymorphisms or mutations alter these responses and predispose to reward seeking behavior.
Methods to be learned
Students in the Quintana Lab learn molecular biology, genotyping, behavioral assays with larval fish, drug treatment assays for embryos and larvae, and western blot assays. Students gain skills in written and oral communication and are provided a foundation in developmental neurobiology research.