Since October 2018 I have been a DPhil student at Christ Church College funded by the State Study Foundation of Lithuania, under the supervision of Prof. Zoltán Molnár. My primary research interest is focused on activity-dependent myelination in developing brain. I aim to test whether different forms of neuronal activity (regulated vesicular release or firing action potentials) of cortical projection neurons have a role in myelination during development. The identification of molecular, cellular and electrophysiological profiles and the role of immune system in activity-dependent myelination will be an important step in understanding how neuronal networks are formed during brain development and maintained before and after the final connectome emerges.
I obtained my B.Sc. in Medical and Veterinary Genetics from Lithuanian University of Health Sciences (LUHS) in 2015. I worked in the Department of Pulmonology and Immunology at LUHS. During my undergraduate degree I contributed to a clinical study on nuclear factor happa B (NFkB) role during allergic asthma.
After graduation I joined Dr. Cornelius Gross group at European Molecular Biology Laboratory (EMBL), Epigenetic and Neurobiology Units in Monterotondo, Italy. I contributed to the research on molecular signal for synaptic pruning by microglia under the supervision of Dr. Urte Neniskyte. In 2017, I obtained M.Sc in Neurobiology (magna cum laude) from Vilnius University. During two-years master program I was in collaboration with Dr. Urte Neniskyte and continued my master thesis project in Gross group at EMBL in 2016, studying “The Role of Xkr8 Scramblase in Microglia-Dependent Synaptic Pruning”. To understand how phosphatidylserine (PtdSer) exposure contributes to the discrimination of synapses to be eliminated or maintained in developing brain, we developed a mouse line that lacks scramblase Xkr8 in excitatory hippocampus neurons and determined morphological consequences for hippocampal synapses under scramblase deficiency. At the same time I joined Dr. Davide Ragozzino group in the Department of Physiology and Pharmacology at the Sapienza University of Rome, investigating electrophysiological profile of Xkr8 scramblase-deficient mice hippocampal circuitry using whole-cell patch-clamp method.
In 2017, I joined Dr. Urte Neniskyte lab at the Life Science Center in Vilnius, Lithuania, focusing on microglial cells differentiation and evaluation of morphological properties of neurons to understand their feature in synaptic pruning, as junior research associate. I aimed to develop a tool that helps us to determine microglia morphological features. Due to commonly used highly subjective classification of microglial cells by visual investigation we used machine learning (ResNet18 convolutional network) for automatic classification of microglia in developing brain.
Microglia remodel synapses by presynaptic trogocytosis and spine head filopodia induction
Weinhard L. et al, (2018), Nature Communications, 9
Sexual dimorphism of microglia and synapses during mouse postnatal development
Weinhard L. et al, (2018), Developmental Neurobiology, 78, 618 - 626