Taniguchi Lab

We study Development and Function of Inhibitory Neural Circuits

Hiroki Taniguchi

Research Group Leader

(561) 972-9000


Dr. Taniguchi was appointed a Research Group Leader of Development and Function of Inhibitory Neural Circuits Group at the Max Planck Florida Institute for Neuroscience in August 2012. His current research focus is to reveal fine connectivity of inhibitory neural circuits and understand the development and function of different GABA neuron subtypes.

Taniguchi received his Ph.D. in Developmental Neurobiology from the National Institute for Basic Biology (NIBB) in Japan. After his Ph.D., he started his postdoctoral work, also at NIBB, where he studied molecular and cellular mechanisms for neuronal migration in the hindbrain. Taniguchi then moved to the U.S.A. to work as a postdoctoral fellow at Columbia University, where he examined molecular mechanisms for synapse formation. From 2005 to 2012 he worked as a postdoctoral fellow (2005-2011) and a research investigator (2011-2012) in the lab of Dr. Z. Josh Huang at Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory. As a postdoctoral fellow, Taniguchi generated genetically engineered mouse lines to manipulate distinct subtypes of GABAergic inhibitory neurons, which enables researches to ask numerous unsolved questions about the complexity of neural circuits. Since 2011, Dr. Taniguchi has also been a researcher in Precursory Research for Embryonic Science and Technology in Japan.

Taniguchi has received grants from the National Alliance for Research on Schizophrenia and Depression (NARSAD) (2009), Citizens United United for Research in Epilepsy (CURE) (2013), and the Whitehall Foundation (2014).

Research Topic

Cortical inhibitory interneurons (INs) play a critical role in shaping and balancing neuronal activity and thus have been implicated in brain disorders such as epilepsy, autism, and schizophrenia. They display diverse subtypes, which differ in morphology, physiology, and connectivity. Such cell type diversity is thought to be essential for various types of circuit operations. Therefore, elucidating development, connectivity, and function of IN subtypes is crucial to understanding principles of the brain construction and function in normal and disease brains.

INs display diverse subtypes, which innervate distinct compartments (e.g., dendrites, somata, and axon initial segments) of excitatory principal neurons (PNs) and regulate various types of circuit operations. There are many outstanding questions about the cell type specification, assembly, organization, and structural plasticity of cortical INs. To address these questions, we employ mouse genetics, molecular/cellular biology, virology, and imaging techniques.

Current Projects

Project 1 – The molecular mechanisms underlying the cell type specification and synapse specificity of chandelier cellsĀ 

Chandelier cells (ChCs) powerfully control action potential generation in PNs by innervating their axon initial segments. Because of the uniformity of their structural and physiological properties, ChCs serve as an ideal experimental system to study cell type-specific development. Using RNA-sequencing techniques, we have identified several candidate genes that are preferentially expressed in ChCs. We are characterizing the function of these genes in vivo using CRISPR/Cas9. These studies will provide an important insight into molecular mechanisms underlying the cell type specification and synaptic specificity of cortical IN subtypes.

Project 2 – The role of neuromodulatory systems in the wiring of cortical INs

Neuromodulatory neurons that reside in subcortical regions project long-range axons to the cortex to coordinate cortical activity with animal behaviors/external environment. Little is known about whether and how neuromodulatory systems influence the wiring of cortical INs. We are currently asking the following questions: a) what is the molecular mechanism by which neuromodulatory systems impact axonal wiring of cortical INs? b) what animal behaviors/external environmental factors could regulate neuromodulatory neuronal activity in young animals? c) the disturbance of neuromodulatory signaling in young animals impacts circuit function in adults? These studies will provide a novel insight into the developmental role of neuromodulatory systems in the wiring of inhibitory circuits.

Project 3 – The assembly and organization of cortical circuit modules

We have developed a novel genetic strategy named as intersectional monosynaptic tracing (iMT), which enables us to label and manipulate IN subtypes sending inputs to PN subtypes. Using this approach, we will systematically determine the spatial organization of INs innervating distinct types of PNs defined by their areal/laminar positions and long-range projection targets. We will also elucidate mechanisms by which distinct PN subtypes establish connections with input INs exhibiting specific spatial deployment. These studies will provide fundamental insight into wiring principles of distinct cortical circuit modules.

Project 4 – Mechanisms underlying structural plasticity of cortical INs and its role in cortical network remodeling

Previous studies showed that cortical INs immediately remodel their axons before PNs exhibit structural plasticity in response to sensory deprivation. Integrating self-inactivating rabies viruses (SiRVs) into iMT, we will dissect the mechanisms and functional role for cortical IN structural plasticity in a cell type-specific manner. These studies will provide a novel insight into network remodeling in the adult cortex.

Lab Members

Taniguchi Lab

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