Dr. Berman's research focuses on the role of mitochondria in neurodegenerative diseases, particularly Parkinson's disease, and her laboratory is evaluating the role of mitochondrial dynamics in neurodegenerative diseases. Mitochondria, the energy-producing organelles in cells, are very dynamic in neurons, undergoing frequent division (fission) and fusion, and being transported in a regulated fashion. These processes are critical for synapse function and formation, programmed cell death mechanisms, and protection of mitochondrial DNA. Changes in mitochondrial dynamics are increasingly being linked to neurodegenerative diseases. However, these mitochondrial processes have been very difficult to study directly, particularly in the brain. Using novel methodology, Dr. Berman's laboratory directly studies the role of mitochondrial dynamics in neurotoxicity/neuroprotection in chronic Parkinson's disease models, aging, and other neurodegenerative diseases such as Alzheimer's disease, with the goals of elucidating important mitochondrial mechanisms in neurodegeneration and providing potential new therapeutic targets.
Live imaging of mitochondrial dynamics in CNS dopaminergic neurons in vivo demonstrates early reversal of mitochondrial transport following MPP(+) exposure. Dukes AA, Bai Q, Van Laar VS, Zhou Y, Ilin V, David CN, Agim ZS, Bonkowsky JL, Cannon JR, Watkins SC, Croix CM, Burton EA, Berman SB. Neurobiol Dis. 2016 Nov;95:238-49. doi: 10.1016/j.nbd.2016.07.020.
Mic60/mitofilin overexpression alters mitochondrial dynamics and attenuates vulnerability of dopaminergic cells to dopamine and rotenone. Van Laar VS, Berman SB, Hastings TG. Neurobiol Dis. 2016 Jul;91:247-61. doi: 10.1016/j.nbd.2016.03.015.
Glutamate excitotoxicity in neurons triggers mitochondrial and endoplasmic reticulum accumulation of Parkin, and, in the presence of N-acetyl cysteine, mitophagy. Van Laar VS, Roy N, Liu A, Rajprohat S, Arnold B, Dukes AA, Holbein CD, Berman SB. Neurobiol Dis. 2015 Feb;74:180-93. doi: 10.1016/j.nbd.2014.11.015.
Exploring the life cycle of mitochondria in neuropsychiatric diseases: mitochondrial dynamics and quality control.
Berman SB, Hollenbeck PJ. Neurobiol Dis. 2013 Mar;51:1-2. doi: 10.1016/j.nbd.2012.11.009. No abstract available.
The interplay of neuronal mitochondrial dynamics and bioenergetics: implications for Parkinson's disease.
Van Laar VS, Berman SB. Neurobiol Dis. 2013 Mar;51:43-55. doi: 10.1016/j.nbd.2012.05.015. Review.