Manuela Cerina

Institute of Physiology I
Robert-Koch-Str. 27a
D-48149 Münster

Phone: +49 (0) 251/83 52112

Joined OCC in 2010

Research Project

The role of potassium channels in the thalamus

The project focuses on the role of low-threshold potassium channels mediating a hyperpolarizing current. This current has a key role in regulating the excitability of various central and peripheral neurons. It was demonstrated that these channels are involved in neuron firing regulation in hippocampus and that, after transgenic suppression of the channels, hippocampal theta rhythms were altered and spatial learning was impaired. Other authors underline the correlation between alterations in channel function and progressive hearing loss or cardiac disease. Interestingly, a mutation in these channels causes neonatal epilepsy, which emphasizes their importance in regulating excitability.
The dorsal thalamus seems to be a "pacemaker" of certain forms of slow oscillations and was proposed to be a key determinant of the hypersynchronous activity during absence seizures. Although these K+-channels could be expected to be an important regulator of thalamic oscillations, little is known about this particular type of K+-channels in the thalamus. In fact, it was widely assumed they do not play a role in the thalamocortical relay. Thalamic nuclei are also involved in the regulation of the pain pathway, e.g. the ventrobasal nuclei are important for sensory discrimination and transmission/modulation of painful stimuli. The aim of my project is to determine the molecular identity on these thalamic K+-channels and to elucidate the role of these channels in thalamocortical signalling, the regulation of the sleep/wake cycle, and in absence seizures, and to determine whether they are capable of modulating signals along the pain pathway.

Promotion Committee

Prof. Dr. T. Budde
Prof. Dr. W.-M. Weber
Prof. Dr. H.-C. Pape


*1985 Lanusei, Italy
2004-2007 Studies in Biology, University of Cagliari, Italy
2007 Bachelor Degree in Experimental Biology at University of Cagliari; Title:“Evaluation of the emotional state in rats chronically treated with statins” Supervisor: Prof. Mariangela Serra
2007-2009 Internship as student in the Laboratory of “Biochemical and behavioural pharmacology”, Dept. of Experimental Biology “B. Loddo”, Section of Neuroscience, University of Cagliari, Italy.
Supervisors: Prof. Giovanni Biggio, Prof. Mariangela Serra
2009 Master Degree in Neuropsychobiology at University of Cagliari; Title: “Effect of chronic treatment with statins on learning and memory in rats”, Thesis supervisor: Prof. Mariangela Serra
2010 Beginning of PhD research project, Institute of Physiology I, University of Münster