Schizophrenia is a serious mental disorder that affects 1% of the world population and is ineffectively treated by current medications. To develop more effective treatments for schizophrenia, it is crucial to understand the disease mechanisms. The gene cacna1i, encoding T-type voltage-gated calcium channels (Cav3.3), was identified as one of 108 risk loci associated with schizophrenia in a genome-wide association study. However, its expression profile in the brain has not been systematically investigated. We used western blot and customer-made rabbit anti-Cav3.3 polyclonal antibodies to probe Cav3.3 expression in the mouse brain at different time points during development. We confirmed its expression at different brain regions including the cortex, the hippocampus, and the striatum. Interestingly, we found Cav3.3 expression is regulated developmentally with a peak at early postnatal days, suggesting it plays important roles during development. Currently we are investigating the functions of Cav3.3 in brain development by combining immunostaining, RNAi knockdown, human organoid expression, and biochemical assays. Understanding the genetic components of schizophrenia will serve as a foundation for the development of novel effective treatments.
PROJECT: Characterization of schizophrenia-associated Cav3.3 expression in mouse brains and human organoids
My experience at the Broad far exceeded my expectations. The dynamic work environment and friendly atmosphere helped to solidify my interest in pursuing a career in research. I am incredibly thankful for all of my mentors, their passion for research, and their invaluable guidance. Overall, I will continue to cultivate both the skills and friendships I’ve gained through SRPG.