Bernardo Sabatini, Ph.D., M.D.

Alice and Rodman W. Moorhead III Professor of Neurobiology
  • Sabatini Lab
  • 617/432-5670

The main focus of my research laboratory is to understand the development and regulation of synapses in the brain and the relationship of these processes to behavior and disease.  Our studies include analysis of:

  1. The biophysical processes that control the function of individual synapses
  2. The mechanisms of regulation of synapses and neurons by neuromodulators such as dopamine, acetylcholine, and peptides
  3. The relationship between synaptic plasticity and behavior
  4. The role of perturbed synapse function in human neuropsychiatric diseases such as autism, Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s

Our studies are performed in the mammalian brain and we focus on the analysis of hippocampus, cortex, and basal ganglia.  Recently, the analysis of the basal ganglia has become a major focus of the laboratory and we hope to perform a comprehensive analysis of the questions above in this brain structure.  Lastly, as necessary for our studies, we develop novel optical, electrophysiological, and behavioral approaches to carry out the proposed work. Greater detail and a complete list of publications can be found at our laboratory web site.

Recently, the analysis of the basal ganglia has become a major focus of the laboratory and we hope to perform a comprehensive analysis of the questions above in this brain structure. 

  1. Straub C, Granger AJ, Saulnier JL, Sabatini BL. CRISPR/Cas9-Mediated Gene Knock-Down in Post-Mitotic Neurons. August 20, 2014. PloS one.

    Link to Abstract
  2. Khibnik LA, Tritsch NX, Sabatini BL. A direct projection from mouse primary visual cortex to dorsomedial striatum. August 20, 2014. PloS one.

    Link to Abstract
  3. Hochbaum DR, Zhao Y, Farhi SL, Klapoetke N, Werley CA, Kapoor V, Zou P, Kralj JM, Maclaurin D, Smedemark-Margulies N, Saulnier JL, Boulting GL, Straub C, Cho YK, Melkonian M, Wong GK, Harrison DJ, Murthy VN, Sabatini BL, Boyden ES, Campbell RE, Cohen AE. All-optical electrophysiology in mammalian neurons using engineered microbial rhodopsins. June 22, 2014. Nature methods.

    Link to Abstract
  4. Straub C, Tritsch NX, Hagan NA, Gu C, Sabatini BL. Multiphasic modulation of cholinergic interneurons by nigrostriatal afferents. June 18, 2014. The Journal of neuroscience : the official journal of the Society for Neuroscience.

    Link to Abstract
  5. Pisanello F, Sileo L, Oldenburg IA, Pisanello M, Martiradonna L, Assad JA, Sabatini BL, De Vittorio M. Multipoint-emitting optical fibers for spatially addressable in vivo optogenetics. May 29, 2014. Neuron.

    Link to Abstract
  6. Takasaki K, Sabatini BL. Super-resolution 2-photon microscopy reveals that the morphology of each dendritic spine correlates with diffusive but not synaptic properties. May 7, 2014. Frontiers in neuroanatomy.

    Link to Abstract
  7. Tritsch NX, Oh WJ, Gu C, Sabatini BL. Midbrain dopamine neurons sustain inhibitory transmission using plasma membrane uptake of GABA, not synthesis. April 24, 2014. eLife.

    Link to Abstract
  8. Straub C, Sabatini BL. How to grow a synapse. April 16, 2014. Neuron.

    Link to Abstract
  9. Chen Y, Saulnier JL, Yellen G, Sabatini BL. A PKA activity sensor for quantitative analysis of endogenous GPCR signaling via 2-photon FRET-FLIM imaging. April 2, 2014. Frontiers in pharmacology.

    Link to Abstract
  10. Nieland TJ, Logan DJ, Saulnier J, Lam D, Johnson C, Root DE, Carpenter AE, Sabatini BL. High Content Image Analysis Identifies Novel Regulators of Synaptogenesis in a High-Throughput RNAi Screen of Primary Neurons. March 14, 2014. PloS one.

    Link to Abstract
  11. Murphy JA, Stein IS, Lau CG, Peixoto RT, Aman TK, Kaneko N, Aromolaran K, Saulnier JL, Popescu GK, Sabatini BL, Hell JW, Zukin RS. Phosphorylation of Ser1166 on GluN2B by PKA Is Critical to Synaptic NMDA Receptor Function and Ca2+ Signaling in Spines. January 15, 2014. The Journal of neuroscience : the official journal of the Society for Neuroscience.

    Link to Abstract
  12. Olson JP, Banghart MR, Sabatini BL, Ellis-Davies GC. Spectral evolution of a photochemical protecting group for orthogonal two-color uncaging with visible light. October 11, 2013. Journal of the American Chemical Society.

    Link to Abstract
  13. Bateup HS, Denefrio CL, Johnson CA, Saulnier JL, Sabatini BL. Temporal dynamics of a homeostatic pathway controlling neural network activity. September 18, 2013. Frontiers in molecular neuroscience.

    Link to Abstract
  14. Banghart MR, Williams JT, Shah RC, Lavis LD, Sabatini BL. Caged naloxone reveals opioid signaling deactivation kinetics. August 19, 2013. Molecular pharmacology.

    Link to Abstract
  15. Tang JC, Szikra T, Kozorovitskiy Y, Teixiera M, Sabatini BL, Roska B, Cepko CL. A nanobody-based system using fluorescent proteins as scaffolds for cell-specific gene manipulation. August 15, 2013. Cell.

    Link to Abstract
  16. Gross GG, Junge JA, Mora RJ, Kwon HB, Olson CA, Takahashi TT, Liman ER, Ellis-Davies GC, McGee AW, Sabatini BL, Roberts RW, Arnold DB. Recombinant probes for visualizing endogenous synaptic proteins in living neurons. June 19, 2013. Neuron.

    Link to Abstract
  17. Bateup HS, Johnson CA, Denefrio CL, Saulnier JL, Kornacker K, Sabatini BL. Excitatory/inhibitory synaptic imbalance leads to hippocampal hyperexcitability in mouse models of tuberous sclerosis. May 8, 2013. Neuron.

    Link to Abstract
  18. Olson JP, Kwon HB, Takasaki KT, Chiu CQ, Higley MJ, Sabatini BL, Ellis-Davies GC. Optically selective two-photon uncaging of glutamate at 900 nm. April 11, 2013. Journal of the American Chemical Society.

    Link to Abstract
  19. Takasaki KT, Ding JB, Sabatini BL. Live-cell superresolution imaging by pulsed STED two-photon excitation microscopy. February 19, 2013. Biophysical journal.

    Link to Abstract
  20. Beier KT, Saunders AB, Oldenburg IA, Sabatini BL, Cepko CL. Vesicular stomatitis virus with the rabies virus glycoprotein directs retrograde transsynaptic transport among neurons in vivo. February 7, 2013. Frontiers in neural circuits.

    Link to Abstract
  21. Kwon HB, Kozorovitskiy Y, Oh WJ, Peixoto RT, Akhtar N, Saulnier JL, Gu C, Sabatini BL. Neuroligin-1-dependent competition regulates cortical synaptogenesis and synapse number. November 11, 2012. Nature neuroscience.

    Link to Abstract
  22. Peixoto RT, Kunz PA, Kwon H, Mabb AM, Sabatini BL, Philpot BD, Ehlers MD. Transsynaptic signaling by activity-dependent cleavage of neuroligin-1. October 17, 2012. Neuron.

    Link to Abstract
  23. Tritsch NX, Sabatini BL. Dopaminergic modulation of synaptic transmission in cortex and striatum. October 4, 2012. Neuron.

    Link to Abstract
  24. Tritsch NX, Ding JB, Sabatini BL. Dopaminergic neurons inhibit striatal output through non-canonical release of GABA. October 3, 2012. Nature.

    Link to Abstract
  25. Carter BC, Giessel AJ, Sabatini BL, Bean BP. Transient sodium current at subthreshold voltages: activation by EPSP waveforms. September 20, 2012. Neuron.

    Link to Abstract
  26. Saunders A, Johnson CA, Sabatini BL. Novel recombinant adeno-associated viruses for Cre activated and inactivated transgene expression in neurons. July 27, 2012. Frontiers in neural circuits.

    Link to Abstract
  27. Kozorovitskiy Y, Saunders A, Johnson CA, Lowell BB, Sabatini BL. Recurrent network activity drives striatal synaptogenesis. May 13, 2012. Nature.

    Link to Abstract
  28. Sheng M, Sabatini BL, Südhof TC. Synapses and Alzheimer's disease. May 1, 2012. Cold Spring Harbor perspectives in biology.

    Link to Abstract
  29. Higley MJ, Sabatini BL. Calcium signaling in dendritic spines. April 1, 2012. Cold Spring Harbor perspectives in biology.

    Link to Abstract
  30. Chen Y, Sabatini BL. Signaling in dendritic spines and spine microdomains. March 27, 2012. Current opinion in neurobiology.

    Link to Abstract
  31. Liu T, Kong D, Shah BP, Ye C, Koda S, Saunders A, Ding JB, Yang Z, Sabatini BL, Lowell BB. Fasting activation of AgRP neurons requires NMDA receptors and involves spinogenesis and increased excitatory tone. February 9, 2012. Neuron.

    Link to Abstract
  32. Banghart MR, Sabatini BL. Photoactivatable neuropeptides for spatiotemporally precise delivery of opioids in neural tissue. January 26, 2012. Neuron.

    Link to Abstract
  33. Ding JB, Oh WJ, Sabatini BL, Gu C. Semaphorin 3E-Plexin-D1 signaling controls pathway-specific synapse formation in the striatum. December 18, 2011. Nature neuroscience.

    Link to Abstract
  34. Sigrist SJ, Sabatini BL. Optical super-resolution microscopy in neurobiology. November 1, 2011. Current opinion in neurobiology.

    Link to Abstract
  35. Beier KT, Saunders A, Oldenburg IA, Miyamichi K, Akhtar N, Luo L, Whelan SP, Sabatini B, Cepko CL. Anterograde or retrograde transsynaptic labeling of CNS neurons with vesicular stomatitis virus vectors. August 8, 2011. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America.

    Link to Abstract
  36. Bateup HS, Takasaki KT, Saulnier JL, Denefrio CL, Sabatini BL. Loss of Tsc1 in vivo impairs hippocampal mGluR-LTD and increases excitatory synaptic function. June 15, 2011. The Journal of neuroscience : the official journal of the Society for Neuroscience.

    Link to Abstract
  37. Giessel AJ, Sabatini BL. Boosting of synaptic potentials and spine Ca transients by the peptide toxin SNX-482 requires alpha-1E-encoded voltage-gated Ca channels. June 9, 2011. PloS one.

    Link to Abstract
  38. Kwon HB, Sabatini BL. Glutamate induces de novo growth of functional spines in developing cortex. May 8, 2011. Nature.

    Link to Abstract
  39. Higley MJ, Gittis AH, Oldenburg IA, Balthasar N, Seal RP, Edwards RH, Lowell BB, Kreitzer AC, Sabatini BL. Cholinergic interneurons mediate fast VGluT3-dependent glutamatergic transmission in the striatum. April 22, 2011. PloS one.

    Link to Abstract
  40. Goda Y, Sabatini BL. Synaptic function and regulation. April 15, 2011. Current opinion in neurobiology.

    Link to Abstract
  41. Giessel AJ, Sabatini BL. M1 muscarinic receptors boost synaptic potentials and calcium influx in dendritic spines by inhibiting postsynaptic SK channels. December 9, 2010. Neuron.

    Link to Abstract
  42. Cheng J, Zhou X, Miller EL, Alvarez VA, Sabatini BL, Wong ST. Oriented Markov random field based dendritic spine segmentation for fluorescence microscopy images. October 1, 2010. Neuroinformatics.

    Link to Abstract
  43. Higley MJ, Sabatini BL. Competitive regulation of synaptic Ca2+ influx by D2 dopamine and A2A adenosine receptors. July 4, 2010. Nature neuroscience.

    Link to Abstract
  44. Bateup HS, Sabatini BL. For synapses, it's depression not death. May 28, 2010. Cell.

    Link to Abstract
  45. Sturgill JF, Steiner P, Czervionke BL, Sabatini BL. Distinct domains within PSD-95 mediate synaptic incorporation, stabilization, and activity-dependent trafficking. October 14, 2009. The Journal of neuroscience : the official journal of the Society for Neuroscience.

    Link to Abstract
  46. Bloodgood BL, Giessel AJ, Sabatini BL. Biphasic synaptic Ca influx arising from compartmentalized electrical signals in dendritic spines. September 15, 2009. PLoS biology.

    Link to Abstract
  47. Ding JB, Takasaki KT, Sabatini BL. Supraresolution imaging in brain slices using stimulated-emission depletion two-photon laser scanning microscopy. August 27, 2009. Neuron.

    Link to Abstract
  48. Higley MJ, Soler-Llavina GJ, Sabatini BL. Cholinergic modulation of multivesicular release regulates striatal synaptic potency and integration. August 9, 2009. Nature neuroscience.

    Link to Abstract
  49. Steiner P, Higley MJ, Xu W, Czervionke BL, Malenka RC, Sabatini BL. Destabilization of the postsynaptic density by PSD-95 serine 73 phosphorylation inhibits spine growth and synaptic plasticity. December 10, 2008. Neuron.

    Link to Abstract
  50. Higley MJ, Sabatini BL. Calcium signaling in dendrites and spines: practical and functional considerations. September 25, 2008. Neuron.

    Link to Abstract
  51. Shankar GM, Li S, Mehta TH, Garcia-Munoz A, Shepardson NE, Smith I, Brett FM, Farrell MA, Rowan MJ, Lemere CA, Regan CM, Walsh DM, Sabatini BL, Selkoe DJ. Amyloid-beta protein dimers isolated directly from Alzheimer's brains impair synaptic plasticity and memory. June 22, 2008. Nature medicine.

    Link to Abstract
  52. Han S, Witt RM, Santos TM, Polizzano C, Sabatini BL, Ramesh V. Pam (Protein associated with Myc) functions as an E3 ubiquitin ligase and regulates TSC/mTOR signaling. February 1, 2008. Cellular signalling.

    Link to Abstract
  53. Xu W, Schlüter OM, Steiner P, Czervionke BL, Sabatini B, Malenka RC. Molecular dissociation of the role of PSD-95 in regulating synaptic strength and LTD. January 24, 2008. Neuron.

    Link to Abstract
  54. Busetto G, Higley MJ, Sabatini BL. Developmental presence and disappearance of postsynaptically silent synapses on dendritic spines of rat layer 2/3 pyramidal neurons. January 17, 2008. The Journal of physiology.

    Link to Abstract
  55. Sabatini BL. Neuroscience: neighbourly synapses. December 20, 2007. Nature.

    Link to Abstract
  56. Bloodgood BL, Sabatini BL. Regulation of synaptic signalling by postsynaptic, non-glutamate receptor ion channels. December 20, 2007. The Journal of physiology.

    Link to Abstract
  57. Carter AG, Soler-Llavina GJ, Sabatini BL. Timing and location of synaptic inputs determine modes of subthreshold integration in striatal medium spiny neurons. August 15, 2007. The Journal of neuroscience : the official journal of the Society for Neuroscience.

    Link to Abstract
  58. Alvarez VA, Ridenour DA, Sabatini BL. Distinct structural and ionotropic roles of NMDA receptors in controlling spine and synapse stability. July 11, 2007. The Journal of neuroscience : the official journal of the Society for Neuroscience.

    Link to Abstract
  59. Cheng J, Zhou X, Miller E, Witt RM, Zhu J, Sabatini BL, Wong ST. A novel computational approach for automatic dendrite spines detection in two-photon laser scan microscopy. May 24, 2007. Journal of neuroscience methods.

    Link to Abstract
  60. Bloodgood BL, Sabatini BL. Ca(2+) signaling in dendritic spines. April 23, 2007. Current opinion in neurobiology.

    Link to Abstract
  61. Shankar GM, Bloodgood BL, Townsend M, Walsh DM, Selkoe DJ, Sabatini BL. Natural oligomers of the Alzheimer amyloid-beta protein induce reversible synapse loss by modulating an NMDA-type glutamate receptor-dependent signaling pathway. March 14, 2007. The Journal of neuroscience : the official journal of the Society for Neuroscience.

    Link to Abstract
  62. Zhang Y, Zhou X, Witt RM, Sabatini BL, Adjeroh D, Wong ST. Dendritic spine detection using curvilinear structure detector and LDA classifier. March 13, 2007. NeuroImage.

    Link to Abstract
  63. Bloodgood BL, Sabatini BL. Nonlinear regulation of unitary synaptic signals by CaV(2.3) voltage-sensitive calcium channels located in dendritic spines. January 18, 2007. Neuron.

    Link to Abstract
  64. Alvarez VA, Sabatini BL. Anatomical and physiological plasticity of dendritic spines. January 1, 2007. Annual review of neuroscience.

    Link to Abstract
  65. Alvarez VA, Ridenour DA, Sabatini BL. Retraction of synapses and dendritic spines induced by off-target effects of RNA interference. July 26, 2006. The Journal of neuroscience : the official journal of the Society for Neuroscience.

    Link to Abstract
  66. Soler-Llavina GJ, Sabatini BL. Synapse-specific plasticity and compartmentalized signaling in cerebellar stellate cells. May 7, 2006. Nature neuroscience.

    Link to Abstract
  67. Zhou X, Zhu J, Liu KY, Sabatini BL, Wong ST. Mutual information-based feature selection in studying perturbation of dendritic structure caused by TSC2 inactivation. January 1, 2006. Neuroinformatics.

    Link to Abstract
  68. Tavazoie SF, Alvarez VA, Ridenour DA, Kwiatkowski DJ, Sabatini BL. Regulation of neuronal morphology and function by the tumor suppressors Tsc1 and Tsc2. November 6, 2005. Nature neuroscience.

    Link to Abstract
  69. Bloodgood BL, Sabatini BL. Neuronal activity regulates diffusion across the neck of dendritic spines. November 4, 2005. Science (New York, N.Y.).

    Link to Abstract
  70. Ngo-Anh TJ, Bloodgood BL, Lin M, Sabatini BL, Maylie J, Adelman JP. SK channels and NMDA receptors form a Ca2+-mediated feedback loop in dendritic spines. April 24, 2005. Nature neuroscience.

    Link to Abstract
  71. Carter AG, Sabatini BL. State-dependent calcium signaling in dendritic spines of striatal medium spiny neurons. October 28, 2004. Neuron.

    Link to Abstract
  72. Yasuda R, Nimchinsky EA, Scheuss V, Pologruto TA, Oertner TG, Sabatini BL, Svoboda K. Imaging calcium concentration dynamics in small neuronal compartments. February 3, 2004. Science's STKE : signal transduction knowledge environment.

    Link to Abstract
  73. Yasuda R, Sabatini BL, Svoboda K. Plasticity of calcium channels in dendritic spines. September 1, 2003. Nature neuroscience.

    Link to Abstract
  74. Pologruto TA, Sabatini BL, Svoboda K. ScanImage: flexible software for operating laser scanning microscopes. May 17, 2003. Biomedical engineering online.

    Link to Abstract
  75. Oertner TG, Sabatini BL, Nimchinsky EA, Svoboda K. Facilitation at single synapses probed with optical quantal analysis. July 1, 2002. Nature neuroscience.

    Link to Abstract
  76. Sabatini BL, Oertner TG, Svoboda K. The life cycle of Ca(2+) ions in dendritic spines. January 31, 2002. Neuron.

    Link to Abstract
  77. Nimchinsky EA, Sabatini BL, Svoboda K. Structure and function of dendritic spines. January 1, 2002. Annual review of physiology.

    Link to Abstract
  78. Sabatini BL, Maravall M, Svoboda K. Ca(2+) signaling in dendritic spines. June 1, 2001. Current opinion in neurobiology.

    Link to Abstract
  79. Sabatini BL, Svoboda K. Analysis of calcium channels in single spines using optical fluctuation analysis. November 30, 2000. Nature.

    Link to Abstract
  80. Maravall M, Mainen ZF, Sabatini BL, Svoboda K. Estimating intracellular calcium concentrations and buffering without wavelength ratioing. May 1, 2000. Biophysical journal.

    Link to Abstract
  81. Sabatini BL, Regehr WG. Timing of synaptic transmission. January 1, 1999. Annual review of physiology.

    Link to Abstract
  82. Sabatini BL, Regehr WG. Optical measurement of presynaptic calcium currents. March 1, 1998. Biophysical journal.

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  83. Sabatini BL, Regehr WG. Control of neurotransmitter release by presynaptic waveform at the granule cell to Purkinje cell synapse. May 15, 1997. The Journal of neuroscience : the official journal of the Society for Neuroscience.

    Link to Abstract
  84. Sabatini BL, Regehr WG. Timing of neurotransmission at fast synapses in the mammalian brain. November 14, 1996. Nature.

    Link to Abstract
  85. Sabatini BL, Regehr WG. Detecting changes in calcium influx which contribute to synaptic modulation in mammalian brain slice. November 1, 1995. Neuropharmacology.

    Link to Abstract
  86. Mintz IM, Sabatini BL, Regehr WG. Calcium control of transmitter release at a cerebellar synapse. September 1, 1995. Neuron.

    Link to Abstract
  87. Blumenfeld H, Zablow L, Sabatini B. Evaluation of cellular mechanisms for modulation of calcium transients using a mathematical model of fura-2 Ca2+ imaging in Aplysia sensory neurons. October 1, 1992. Biophysical journal.

    Link to Abstract

Harvard Medical School
Neurobiology
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