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Neuroscience Graduate Program at UCSF

Faculty - Noelle L'Etoile, Ph.D.

Our goal is to understand how molecules, cells, circuits and the physiology of an intact organism work together to produce learned behaviors

Research Description

Our goal is to understand how molecules, cells, circuits and the physiology of an intact organism work together to produce learned behaviors.  At the moment we use the powerful genetics, molecular, and cellular biology of the C. elegans olfactory system to approach this question.  Our initial focus was on the sensory neuron itself.  Within the sensory neuron, we discovered that small endogenously produced RNAs (endosiRNAs) provide some of the plasticity of the olfactory response.  The biogenesis of these small RNAs is as mysterious as their regulation by experience and we are attempting to understand each process. Within the circuit, we are examining synaptic remodeling in development and in the adult animal as it adapts to novel stimuli and metabolic stress. The optical transparency of C. elegans provides a unique window into the real time dynamics of circuits.  To take advantage of this, we are developing visual reporters for simultaneous imaging of several aspects of neuronal physiology: calcium transients, pH fluctuations, cGMP and cAMP fluxes and chromatin dynamics within the entire nervous system of the living, behaving animal.

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Current Projects

Visualizing the olfactory circuit as it changes its response to prolonged stimulation.

Discovering the unique neuronal regulation of endogenous RNA silencing.

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Lab Members

Aarati Asundi - BMS graduate student
Adriel John Ablaza - Research Assitant
Sanjeev Balakrishnan - Research Assistant
Mary Bethke - Research Assistant and Lab Manager
Kelli Benedetti - TETRAD gradute student
Katherine Mellman - TETRAD gradute student
Chantal Brueggemann - Postdoc
Trang Duong - OFCS graduate student
Fernando Munoz Lobato - Postdoc
Veronica Valdez - Lab Assitant
Sarah Woldemariam - CCB Graduate Student
Bo Zhang - Postdoc

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Selected Publications

L'Etoile, N.D., and Bargmann, C.I. (2000). Olfaction and Odor Discrimination are Mediated by the C elegans Guanylyl Cyclase ODR-1. Neuron25, 575-586.

L'Etoile ND, CoburnCM, EasthamJ, KistlerA, GallegosG, BargmannCI.(2002).The cyclic GMP-dependent protein kinase EGL-4 regulates olfactory adaptation in C. elegans. Neuron, 36, 1079-1089.

Kaye, J.A.; Rose, N.C.; Goldsworthy, B.; Goga, A. and Noelle L’Etoile. A 3'UTR pumilio- binding element directs translational activation in olfactory sensory neurons. Neuron, 61, 57- 70.

O'Halloran, D.M., Altshuler-Keylin, S., Lee, J.I., and L'Etoile, N.D. (2009). Regulators of AWC mediated olfactory plasticity in Caenorhabditis elegans. PLoS Genetics12:e1000761.

Lee, J.I., O'Halloran, D.M., Eastham-Anderson, J., Juang, B.T., Kaye, J.A., Hamilton, O.S., Goga, A., and L'Etoile, N.D. (2010). Nuclear entry of a cGMP-dependent kinase converts transient into long-lasting olfactory adaptation. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. 107, 6016-6021.

Swarbrick A, Woods S, Shaw A, Balakrishnan A, Phua Y, Chanthery Y, Huskey NE, Lim L, Nguyen A, Ashton L, Sullivan C, Lengyel P, Preiss T, Blelloch R, Weiss W, L’Etoile N, and Goga A. (2010). miR-380-5p represses p53 to control cellular survival and is associated with poor outcome in neuroblastoma. Nature Medicine 16, 1134-1140.

O'Halloran DM , Hamilton OS , Lee JI , Gallegos M , L'Etoile ND. (2012). Changes in cGMP Levels Affect the Localization of EGL-4 in AWC in Caenorhabditis elegans. PLoS ONE 7(2): e31614.

Krzyzanowski MC, Brueggemann C, Ezak MJ, Wood JF, Michaels KL, Jackson CA, Juang BT, Collins KD, Yu MC, L'Etoile ND, Ferkey DM.The C. elegans cGMP-dependent protein kinase EGL-4 regulates nociceptive behavioral sensitivity (2013). PLoS Genetics 2013;9(7):e1003619.

Juang BT, Gu C, Starnes L, Palladino F, Goga A, Kennedy S, L'Etoile ND. (2013). Endogenous nuclear RNAi mediates behavioral adaptation to odor. Cell. 154,1010-22.

Expression of an expanded CGG-repeat RNA in a single pair of primary sensory neurons impairs olfactory adaptation in C. elegans. (2014). Juang BT, Ludwig AL, Benedetti KL, Gu C, Collins K, Morales C, Asundi A, Wittmann T, L'Etoile N, Hagerman PJ. Hum Mol Genet. 15, 4945-59.

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Noelle L'Etoile, Ph.D.




Office Address

UCSF MC 0512
513 Parnassus Avenue, Room HSW-614
San Francisco, CA 94143

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