Manasa Parakala


Manasa Parakala
BS, Behavioral Neuroscience
Northeastern University
Boston, MA 
Neuroscience PhD Student
Stephen Moss, PhD, Adviser




GABA-mediated inhibition in the brain is essential for establishing proper neuronal circuitry. Deficits in GABA-ergic inhibition have been implicated in many disorders including anxiety, depression, schizophrenia and epilepsy. Fast-responding GABAA receptors are the major mediators of phasic and tonic inhibition in the brain. Therefore, they have been the major targets for development of anxiolytic and anticonvulsant drugs, such as benzodiazepines that act by potentiating the response to GABA. In addition to these drugs, endogenously produced neurosteroids also potentiate GABAA-mediated responses and confer similar anxiolytic and anticonvulsant properties, thus making them potential therapeutic candidates. The effects of neurosteroids on GABAA receptors seem to be dependent on receptor subunit compositions that exist at different synaptic and extrasynaptic sites, mediating phasic and tonic inhibition, respectively. In addition to potentiating GABAA-mediated responses, we have recently discovered a novel mechanism where neurosteroids specifically enhance tonic inhibition by specifically increasing the trafficking of extrasynaptic receptors through a PKC-dependent pathway. Thus, I am looking to further investigate the relationship between neurosteroids and extrasynaptic GABAAR, in terms of receptor trafficking and how, when and where phosphorylation affects neurosteroid modulation of these receptors.

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