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Neuroscience Graduate Program at UCSF

Faculty - Dorit Ron, Ph.D.

Signal Transduction, Molecular Neurobiology of Addiction

Research Description

We use molecular biology, biochemistry and electrophysiology, in parallel with behavioral models, to study how normal signaling processes are altered upon exposure of rodents to alcohol and drugs of abuse, and how these changes lead to the development, maintenance or the prevention of addiction.

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Current Projects

  1. Identifying the function of the growth factors BDNF, GDNF and IGF1 in the CNS and in alcohol abuse disorders.
  2. Determining the role of the mTor in aberrant synaptic plasticity induced by drugs of abuse.
  3. Identifying the role of tyrosine kinases and phosphatases in alcohol abuse disorders.
  4. Determining the role of the NMDA receptor in alcohol-mediated plasticity in the dorsal striatum.
  5. Exploring the role of scaffolding proteins in the CNS and in alcohol abuse disorders.
  6. Epigenetic mechanisms and addiction.
  7. Identifying the role of HSP90 in alcohol abuse disorders.

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Lab Members

Jacob Beckley, Postdoctoral Fellow
Emmanuel Darcq, Postdoctoral Fellow
Hannah Gil, Staff Research Associate
Remi Legastelois, Postdoctoral Fellow
Feng Liu,  Postdoctoral Fellow
Virginia Long, Project Manager
Ky Phamluong, Lab Manager
Vincent Warnault, Postdoctoral Fellow
Su Wu, Postdoctoral Fellow
Ji Hwan Yu, Intern
Eric Zhao, Intern

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Selected Publications

Ben Hamida S, Darcq E, Wang J, Wu S, Phamluong K, Kharazia V, and Ron D. Protein Tyrosine Phosphatase {alpha} in the Dorsomedial Striatum Promotes Excessive Ethanol-Drinking Behaviors J. Neurosci. 2013;33 14369-14378 <http://www.jneurosci.org/cgi/content/abstract/33/36/14369?etoc>

Barak S, Liu F, Ben Hamida S, Yowell QV,  Neasta J, Kharazia V, Janak PH, Ron D. Disruption of alcohol-related memories by mTORC1 inhibition prevents relapse. Nat Neurosci. 2013 Aug;16(8):1111-7.<http://dx.doi.org/10.1038/nn.3439>

Warnault V, Darcq E, Levine A, Barak S, Ron D. Chromatin remodeling - a novel strategy to control excessive alcohol drinking. Transl Psychiatry. 2013 Feb 19;3:e231. <http://dx.doi.org/10.1038/tp.2013.4>

Ahmadiantehrani S, Ron D. Dopamine D2 Receptor Activation Leads To An Upregulation Of Glial Cell Line-Derived Neurotrophic Factor Via Gβγ-Erk1/2-Dependent Induction Of Zif268. J Neurochem. 2013 Feb 1. [Epub ahead of print] <http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/jnc.12178>

Ben Hamida S., Neasta J., Lasek A.W., Kharazia V., Zou M., Carnicella S., Janak P.H., Ron D. The Small G Protein H-Ras in the Mesolimbic System Is a Molecular Gateway to Alcohol-Seeking and Excessive Drinking Behaviors. J. Neurosci. 2012;32 15849-15858. <http://www.jneurosci.org/content/32/45/15849.long>

Wang J, Ben Hamida S, Darcq E, Zhu W, Gibb SL, Lanfranco MF, Carnicella S, and Ron D. Ethanol-Mediated Facilitation of AMPA Receptor Function in the Dorsomedial Striatum: Implications for Alcohol Drinking Behavior. J. Neurosci. 2012;32 15124-15132. <http://www.jneurosci.org/cgi/content/abstract/32/43/15124?etoc>

Neasta J, Kiely PA, He D-Y, Adams DR, O'Connor R and Ron D. Direct interaction between scaffolding proteins RACK1 and 14-3-3{zeta} regulates brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF) transcription. J. Biol. Chem. 2012; 287(1): p. 322-336. <http://dx.doi.org/10.1074/jbc.M111.272195>

Barak S, Ahmadiantehrani S, Kharazia V and Ron D. Positive autoregulation of GDNF levels in the ventral tegmental area mediates long-lasting inhibition of excessive alcohol consumption. Transl Psychiatry (2011) 1:e60. <http://dx.doi.org/10.1038/tp.2011.57>

Barak S., Carnicella S., Yowell Q.V., Ron D. Glial cell line-derived neurotrophic factor reverses alcohol-induced allostasis of the mesolimbic dopaminergic system: implications for alcohol reward and seeking. J. Neurosci. 2011 July 6;31 9885-9894 <http://www.jneurosci.org/cgi/content/abstract/31/27/9885?etoc>

Neasta J, Ben Hamida S, Yowell QV, Carnicella S and Ron D. AKT signaling pathway in the nucleus accumbens mediates excessive alcohol drinking behaviors. Biological Psychiatry. Biol Psychiatry. 2011 Sep 15;70(6):575-82. <http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.biopsych.2011.03.019>

Gibb S. L., Jeanblanc J., Barak S., Yowell Q. V., Yaka R. and Ron D. Lyn kinase regulates mesolimbic dopamine release: implication for alcohol reward. J. Neurosci. 2011, Feb 9; 31(6):2180–2187. <http://dx.doi.org/10.1523/JNEUROSCI.5540-10.2011>

Neasta J., Hamida S., Yowell Q., Carnicella S. and Ron D. Role for Mammalian Target of Rapamycin Complex 1 Signaling in Neuroadaptations Underlying Alcohol-Related Disorders. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. 107(46): p. 20093–20098, 2010. <http://www.pnas.org/cgi/doi/10.1073/pnas.1005554107>

Wang J., Carnicella S., He D.Y., Ahmadiantehrani S., Barak S., Ben Hamida S., Kharazia V., Zapata A,, Shippenberg T.S. and Ron D. Nucleus Accumbens-Derived GDNF Is a Retrograde Enhancer of Dopaminergic Tone in the Mesocorticolimbic System. J. Neurosci. 2010, Oct 27; 30 14502-14512. <http://dx.doi.org/10.1523/JNEUROSCI.3909-10.2010>

Wang J., Lanfranco M.F., Gibb S.L., Yowell Q.V., Carnicella S., Ron D. Long-Lasting Adaptations of the NR2B-containing NMDA Receptors in the Dorsomedial Striatum Play a Crucial Role in Alcohol Consumption and Relapse. J. Neurosci. 2010, July 28; 30 10187-10198. <http://www.jneurosci.org/cgi/content/abstract/30/30/10187?etoc>

He, D-Y, Neasta, J and Ron, D. Epigenetic regulation of BDNF expression via the scaffolding protein RACK1. J. Biol. Chem. 2010 Apr 21. <http://www.jbc.org/content/early/2010/04/21/jbc.M110.100693>

Jeanblanc J, He D-Y, Carnicella S, Kharazia V, Janak PH, Ron D. Endogenous BDNF in the Dorsolateral Striatum Gates Alcohol Drinking. J. Neurosci. 2009, Oct 28;29(43):13494-3502. <http://dx.doi.org/10.1523/JNEUROSCI.2243-09.2009>

Carnicella S, Ahmadiantehrani S, He DY, Nielsen CK, Bartlett SE, Janak PH and Ron D. Cabergoline decreases alcohol drinking and seeking behaviors via glial cell line-derived neurotrophic factor. Biol Psychiatry. 2009 Jul 15;66(2):146-53. <http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.biopsych.2008.12.022>

Logrip, M.L., Janak, P.H. andRon, D. Escalating ethanol intake is associated with altered corticostriatal BDNF expression.J Neurochem. 2009 Jun;109(5):1459-68. <http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/j.1471-4159.2009.06073.x>

Carnicella S, Kharazia V., Jeanblanc J., Janak PH and Ron D. GDNF – a fast acting potent inhibitor of motivation for alcohol seeking. PNAS. 2008 Jun 10;105(23):8114-9 <http://dx.doi.org/10.1073/pnas.0711755105>.

He D.-Y. and Ron D. Glial Cell Line-derived Neurotrophic Factor Reverses Ethanol-mediated Increases in Tyrosine Hydroxylase Immunoreactivity via Altering the Activity of Heat Shock Protein 90. J. Biol. Chem. 2008 May 9:283(19):12811-12818. <http://dx.doi.org/10.1074/jbc.M706216200>

Logrip M, Janak PH andRon D. Dynorphin Is A Downstream Effector Of Striatal BDNF Regulation Of Ethanol. FASEB J. 2008 Jul;22(7):2393-404 <http://dx.doi.org/10.1096/fj.07-099135>.

Jurd R, Thornton C, Wang J, Luong K, Phamluong K, Kharazia V, Gibb S.L., and Ron D. Mind bomb-2 is an E3 ligase that ubiquitinates the NMDA receptor NR2B subunit in a phosphorylation-dependent manner. J. Biol. Chem. 2008 Jan 4;283(1):301-10 <http://dx.doi.org/10.1074/jbc.M705580200>.

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Dorit Ron, Ph.D.





Office Address

UCSF, Mission Bay, Box 0663
675 Nelson Rising Lane, room 414A
San Francisco, CA 94158

Other Websites

Lab Website