Overview of Interests
Ana Carneiro’s research focuses on understanding how conserved protein interactions influence homeostasis of different cells and tissues. She is particularly interested in cell adhesion proteins, which bridge cells with their extracellular matrix, thus coordinating cell shape and migration. In the brain, cell adhesion proteins are of particular interest as they regulate neuronal migration, axonal pathfinding, synapse formation, and synaptic plasticity. Carneiro’s general hypothesis is that cell adhesion molecules not only coordinate the formation of synapses, but also the consolidation of successful synapses, by recruiting functional proteins, such as receptors, transporters, and ion channels.
She is currently studying the role of integrins, particularly of the integrin αvβ3, in the regulation of monoamine signaling. She chose to focus her studies on integrin αvβ3 because the gene encoding for the β3 subunit, ITGB3, has been associated with autism in combination with the serotonin transporter gene (SLC6a4). Integrin αvβ3 interacts with, and modulates the serotonin system in mouse models, and also in human peripheral tissues. Her studies aim to determine the molecular mechanisms by which integrin αvβ3 regulates the dopamine and serotonin system in the central nervous system. Monoamine dysregulation is associated with several neuropsychiatric disorders, including autism, attention-deficit hyperactive disorder, and obsessive-compulsive disorder.
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