Enrica Maria Petrini graduated in Medical Biotechnology at the University of Bologna in 2000 studying gas-1 and ceramidase in cell cycle regulation. In 2000 she underwent a postdegree training on the yeast two hybrid system to identify interactors of the human homologue of B99 at Laboratorio Nazionale C.I.B. (Consorzio Interuniversitario Biotecnologie) in Trieste under the supervision of Prof. Schneider. From 2001 to 2004 she accomplished her PhD studies at the Department of Biophisics - Neurobiology at SISSA (International School for Advanced Studies) under the supervision of Prof. Cherubini studying the influence of GABAA receptor clustering on GABAergic synaptic and tonic inhibition in cultured hippocampal neurons. During the same period she also focused on the biophysics of GABAAR gating and on presynaptic sources of quantal size variability at GABAergic synapses. In 2004 she moved to France for a post-doctoral training in fluorescence imaging and single particle tracking in Prof. Choquet’s lab in Bordeaux to study the influence of AMPAR endocytosis on receptor surface mobility. In 2006 Dr. Petrini obtained a Marie Curie fellowship (IEF) to investigate the contribution of AMPA receptorlateral diffusion and receptor recycling during long term potentiation at glutamatergic synapses. Currently she holds a Research Scientist position at Italian Institute of Technology (IIT) in Genoa, in Dr. Barberis’ lab, studying the role of receptor dynamics in the regulation of synaptic function and in the computational properties of the neuron.
Dr. Petrini has a solid background in neurophysiology with a keen interest on the nano-scaled organization and dynamics of synaptic proteins, on membrane trafficking and on the impact of receptor dynamics on synaptic physiology. Over the years she has combined her wide technical experience in leading-edge imaging techniques (e.g. Single Particle Tracking, high-resolution live cell imaging, multicolor fluorescence recovery after photobleaching, confocal and multiphoton microscopy), electrophysiology, immunocyto/histochemistry, cellular and molecular biology for a high resolution investigation of the molecular organization and function of the synapse.
Molecular determinants of inhibitory synaptic plasticity
This project aims at understanding the molecular modifications responsible for potentiation at GABAergic synapses (iLTP) and the contribution of GABAAR lateral mobility in neuronal computation. With multidisciplinary approaches combining electrophysiology, single particle tracking, super resolution microscopy, biochemistry and immunochemistry we are focusing on:
Inhibitory synaptic plasticity in the NL3-R451C mouse model of autism spectrum disorders
Autistic Spectrum Disorder (ASD) has been associated to genetic alterations of proteins that are crucial for the synaptic function such as Neuroligin 3 (NL3). This projects focuses on the R451C mutation on NL3 -found in autistic siblings- as a molecular determinant of ASD. We aim at assessing how this mutation affects the structure and function of inhibitory synapses and alters inhibitory synaptic plasticity in a characterized mouse model of ASD, the NL3R451C knock-in (KI).
Influence of receptor endocytosis on inhibitory synaptic function through the modulation of GABAA receptors availability and stabilization at GABAergic synapses
The availability of neurotransmitter receptors at synapses is a key determinant of synaptic transmission known to depend on receptor intracellular trafficking and on surface receptor lateral mobility. In this context the location and dynamics of GABAA receptor exocytosis and endocytosis can significantly shape synaptic inhibition. This project explores how posttranslational modifications responsible for the regulation of GABAA receptor internalization influence inhibitory synaptic responses by tuning receptor surface dynamics and receptor-scaffold interactions. Additionally, we investigate how those processes are scaled when promoted GABAA receptor exocytosis sustains the expression of inhibitory long-term potentiation (iLTP) of inhibitory synapses.
2004 Travel Fellowship Award, FENS Forum, Lisboa, Portugal
2006 Marie Curie Fellowship (FP6), Intra European Fellowship
2008 Travel Fellowship Award, MN2008 Meeting, Milan, Italy
2008 Molecular Mechanisms in Neuroscience, Milan, Italy, Best Poster