Associate Professor Ruth Empson
Department of Physiology
Otago School of Medical Sciences
University of Otago
PO Box 913
Fax: +64 3 479 7323
Member of Cellular & Molecular Neuroscience and Membrane & Ion Transport.
Member of The University of Otago Brain Health Research Centre and The Australasian Winter Conference on Brain Research (AWCBR) Organising Committee.
The research in this laboratory uses a combination of electrophysiology, live imaging and molecular approaches to better understand the consequences of modifications to neuronal circuits. Our special interest lies with those circuits, or networks that contribute to our ability to make controlled movements; those within the cerebellum and the motor cortex. This research has relevance for addressing the highly debilitating and poorly treated movement disorders such as ataxia, motor neurone disease and spinal injury. We are also becoming increasingly interested in the contribution from the cerebellum to cognitive processes and its disruption in the poorly treated disorder autism.
Cerebellum, Motor cortex, Electrophysiology, Ca2+ signalling, Ataxia, PMCA2, NCX
- Patch Clamp Electrophysiology
- Calcium imaging
- Post-hoc neuron reconstructions
- Western blot
- PCR based genotyping; single cell PCR
- Cellular and Network Identity in the Motor Cortex; projection neuron identity and networks
- Cellular and Network Identity in the Motor Cortex; corticospinal motor neuron function
- Cerebellar Circuitry - understanding modifications in the ataxic PMCA2 knockout mouse
- Cerebellar Circuitry - cooperative calcium clearance mechanisms for parallel fibre function
- Cerebellar Circuitry - nicotinic receptor mediated actions at cerebellar synapses
- Royal Society of New Zealand Marsden Foundation (2010-2014) The transcription factor code: maintaining neuronal identity and function in the adult brain.
- University of Otago Research Grant (2013-2014) Towards the Development of an On-Demand Device to Control Epilepsy, with Assoc Profs John Reynolds (Anatomy) & Mike Paulin (Zoology)
- New Zealand Neurological Foundation (2008-2011): Metabotropic Glutamate Receptor Signalling in Cerebellar Ataxia.
- University of Otago, Otago School of Medical Sciences, Deans Bequest Funding (2007-2008). Movers and Shakers!
- Otago Medical Research Foundation Cutting out the middle-man; Partner interactions for healthy synapses (2009-2010), with Dr P. Turner
- HRC-JSPS Fellowhip 2008-09 to suport collaboration between our lab and Dr Thomas Knöpfel, Brain Science Institute, RIKEN, Tokyo, Japan.
- BBSRC Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council, UK. (2004-2009): PMCA2 (plasma membrane Ca2+ ATPase) - its role in synapse structure and function. Continued collaboration with Prof Philip Beesley and Prof Brian Austen, Royal Holloway University of London.
- University of Otago Research Grant (2008-9) Cooperation of Ca2+ Recovery Mechanisms for Synapse Function
- Epilepsy Research Foundation UK (2004-2007): Influence of PMCA dependent Ca2+ signalling during epileptogenesis.
- Dr Stephanie Hughes, Department of Biochemistry, University of Otago, New Zealand.
- Dr Natalie Medlicott, New Zealand's National School of Pharmacy University of Otago, New Zealand.
- Dr Thomas Knöpfel, Laboratory of Neuronal Circuit Dynamics, RIKEN BSI, Tokyo, Japan.
- Prof Emanuel Strehler & Dr Aida Filoteo, Mayo Clinic, Rochester, MN, USA.
- Prof Brian Austen, Biochemistry, St George's Hospital Medical School, London, UK.
- Prof Philip Beesley, School of Biological Sciences, Royal Holloway College University of London, Egham, Surrey, TW20 0EX, UK.
Javier Jiminez Martin
Previous lab personnel
- Dr Chris Roome (now with Dr Bernd Kuhn, Okinawa Institute of Technology, Japan)
- Dr Raghu Nagaraja (now with Assoc Prof John Reynolds, Dept of Anatomy and Structural Biology, University of Otago)
- Miss Helena Huang (now a PhD candidate with Assoc Prof John Bekkers, ANU, Australia).
- Mr Daniil Potapov (now with Dr István Ábrahám, Department of Physiology)
- Dr Tom Jensen (now with Prof Dimitri Rusakov, Institute of Neurology, Queen Square, London, UK).
- Ruth M. Empson, Helena Huang, Raghavendra Y. Nagaraja, Chris J. Roome and Thomas Knöpfel Enhanced synaptic inhibition in the cerebellar cortex of the ataxic PMCA2-/- knockout mouse The Cerebellum Mar 21 2013 In press DOI 10.1007/s12311-013-0472-0.
- Roome CJ, Power EM, Empson RM. Transient Reversal of the Sodium-Calcium Exchanger Boosts Presynaptic Calcium and Synaptic Transmission at a Cerebellar Synapse. J Neurophysiol. 2013 Mar 109(6):1669-80. Impact Factor 3.3.
- Chris J. Roome & Thomas Knöpfel & Ruth M. Empson Functional contributions of the plasma membrane calcium ATPase and the sodium–calcium exchanger at mouse parallel fibre to Purkinje neuron synapses Pflugers Archiv European Journal of Physiology 2013 465(2):319-31. doi: 10.1007/s00424-012-1172-1.
- Empson RM, Knöpfel T. Functional integration of calcium regulatory mechanisms of Purkinje neuron synapses. The Cerebellum. 2012 Sep;11(3):640-50. doi: 10.1007/s12311-010-0185-6.
- Roome CJ, Empson RM. Assessment of the contribution of the plasma membrane calcium ATPase, PMCA, calcium transporter to synapse function using patch clamp electrophysiology and fast calcium imaging. Methods Mol Biol. 637:343-60 (2010).
- Helena Huang, Raghavendra Y. Nagaraja, Molly L. Garside, Walther Akemann, Thomas Knöpfel and Ruth M. Empson The Contribution of Plasma Membrane Ca2+ ATPase (PMCA2) to Cerebellar Synapse Function World Journal of Biological Chemistry (5):95 -102 doi:10.4331/wjbc.v1.i5.95 Published online May 26 2010.
- Ruth M. Empson, Paul R. Turner, Raghavendra Y. Nagaraja, Philip W. Beesley, Thomas Knöpfel Reduced PMCA2 Reduced expression of the Ca2+ transporter protein PMCA2 slows Ca2+ dynamics in mouse cerebellar Purkinje neurones and alters the precision of motor coordination. J Physiol 588 (6) 907-922 (2010).
- Garside, M., Turner, P.R., Austen, B.A., Strehler, E.E., Beesley, P.W, Empson, R.M., Molecular interactions of the plasma membrane calcium ATPase PMCA2 at pre- and post-synaptic sites in rat cerebellum. Neuroscience, 162(2):383-95 (2009).
- Jensen, T.P., Buckby, L.E., Empson, R.M., Reduced expression of the "fast" calcium transporter PMCA2a during homeostatic plasticity. Molecular Cellular Neurosci. 41(3):364-72 (2009)
- Empson RM, Garside ML, Knöpfel T. Plasma membrane Ca2+ ATPase 2 contributes to short-term synapse plasticity at the parallel fiber to Purkinje neuron synapse. J Neurosci. Apr 4;27(14): 3753-8 (2007).
- PHSL341 - Cellular Communication; Calcium and synaptic signalling
- HUBS191 - Membrane Bioelectricity
- PHSL231 - Electrical Signalling; Membrane excitability, action potentials and synapses
- PHSL474 - Research Topics
- PHSL472 - Cellular and Molecular Physiology
- Convenor HUBS191 Health Sciences First Year
I believe the best way to grow as a scientist is to be thrown in the deep end early on. My summer projects gave me this opportunity in a safe and fun environment, so when I started my thesis research I was already familiar with the scientific method. Having finished my PhD, I also really appreciate the boost they give my academic CV!
For more information on the Summer Research Programme, click here