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Faculty Detail    
Campus Address MCLM 958A Zip 0005
Phone  205-975-2715
Other websites Lab Website

Faculty Appointment(s)
Appointment Type Department Division Rank
Primary  Cell, Developmntl, & Integrative Biology  Cell, Developmntl, & Integrative Biology Assistant Professor
Secondary  Neurobiology  Neurobiology Assistant Professor
Center  General Clinical Research Center  Comprehensive Neuroscience Center Assistant Professor
Center  Ctr for Glial Bio in Med  Ctr for Glial Bio in Med Assistant Professor

Graduate Biomedical Sciences Affiliations
Cell, Molecular, & Developmental Biology 
Genetics, Genomics and Bioinformatics 
Pathobiology and Molecular Medicine 

Biographical Sketch 
PhD (Neurobiology) University of Alabama at Birmingham 2005

Society Memberships
Organization Name Position Held Org Link
2000 - present Society for Neuroscience   Member   
2013 - present American Society for Neurochemistry  Member   

Research/Clinical Interest
Glial potassium channels and glutamate transporters in injury and abnormal development
The focus of Dr. Olsen's research is to enhance our understanding of the role of astrocytes in brain and spinal cord function. Astrocytes are the most numerous cells in the central nervous system yet the role of astrocytes in injury, particularly pediatric injury, and neurodevelopmental disorders is highly understudied. Her work focuses on two essential functions of astrocytes; buffering of extracellular K+ and glutamate. These functions are thought to be largely mediated by two astrocytic proteins, Kir4.1, an inwardly rectifying potassium channel and excitatory amino acid transporter, GLT-1. These two proteins function to dampen neuronal excitability. Following injury, persistent alterations in the biophysical properties of astrocytes hinder their ability to perform these basic altruistic functions. The resulting dysregulation of extracellular K+ and glutamate are associated with increased neuronal excitability and changes in synaptic physiology and plasticity in the adult. In the developing central nervous system, loss of these functions may profoundly impact neuronal development. Indeed, the immature brain is intrinsically more excitable which may be due in part to lower levels of expression of these two proteins. Surprisingly, little is known regarding the regulation of either protein in normal brain, following injury or during abnormal development. The current research projects span from understanding the regulation of Kir4.1 and GLT-1 gene transcription in pathophysiology, examining protein expression, function and activity, to understanding how the loss of extracellular K+ and glutamate regulation impact neuronal development. To do this work requires a multitude of techniques including functional assays, such as electrophysiology and glutamate uptake assays, confocal and wide field fluorescent imaging, protein biochemistry, and molecular biology. We use tissue and cultured cells derived from several animal models as well as human autopsy and surgical resection tissue.

Selected Publications 
Publication PUBMEDID

Expression of Voltage-Gated Chloride Channels in Human Glioma Cells, M.L. Olsen, S. Schade, S.A. Lyons, M.D. Amaral, H. Sontheimer, Journal of Neuroscience 23(13)5572-5582, 2003
PMID: 12843258

Mislocalization of Kir Channels in Malignant Glia, M.L. Olsen, S. Schade, S.A. Lyons, M.D. Amaral, H. Sontheimer. M.L. Olsen, H. Sontheimer, Glia, 46:63-73, 200, cover art
PMCID: 2548404

Modulation of Glioma BK (gBK) Channels via erbB2, M.L. Olsen, A.K. Weaver, P. Ritch, H. Sontheimer, Journal of Neuroscience Research 15;81(2):179-89, 2005
PMID: 15948146

Functional Expression of Kir4.1 Channels in Spinal Cord Astrocytes, M.L. Olsen, H Higashimori, S.L. Campbell, J.J. Hablitz and H. Sontheimer, Glia 53(5):516-28, 2006, cover art
PMCID: 2553202

Differential Distribution of Kir4.1 in Spinal Cord Astrocytes Suggests Regional Differences in K+ Homeostasis, M.L. Olsen, S.L. Campbell and H. Sontheimer, Journal of Neurophysiology, 98(2):786-93 , 2007
PMCID: 2040512

BK Channels are Coupled to IP3-receptors via Lipid Rafts: a Novel Mechanism for Coupling [Ca2+]i to Channel Activation, A.K. Weaver, M.L. Olsen, M. B. McFerrin and H. Sontheimer, Journal of Biological Chemistry, 26;282(43):31558-68,2007
PMID: 17711864

ClC3 Is a Critical Regulator of Cell Cycle in Normal and Malignant Cells, C.M. Habela, M.L. Olsen and H. Sontheimer, Journal of Neuroscience, 28(37):9205-17, 2008,
PMID: 18784301

Functional Implications for Kir4.1 Channels in Glial Biology: From K+ Buffering to Cell Differentiation, M.L. Olsen and H. Sontheimer, Journal of Neurochemistry, 107, 589–601, 2008

Spinal Cord Injury in vivo Causes Wide-Spread, Persistent Loss of Kir4.1 and GLT-1: Potential Benefits of Treatment with 17-beta Estradiol, M.L. Olsen, S.L. Campbell, C.L. Floyd, H. Sontheimer, Brain, 133(Pt 4):1013-25, 2010
PMID: 20375134

Development and validation of fluorescence- and automated patch clamp-based functional assays for the inward rectifier potassium channel Kir4.1, R. Raphemot, R. Kadakia, M. L. Olsen, S. Banerjee, E. Days, S S. Smith, C. D. Weaver and J. S. Denton. Assay and Drug Development Technologies, 2013 Assay Drug Dev Technol. Nov-Dec;11(9-10):532-43, 2013
PMID: 24266659

DNA methylation is a critical regulator of Kir4.1 in CNS development, S.E. Nwaobi, S.R. Peramsetty, E. Lin and M.L. Olsen, Glia, Mar;62(3):411-27, 2014

Methyl-CpG-binding protein 2 (MEPC2) mutation type is associated with disease severity in Rett Syndrome, V. A. Cuddapah, R. B. Pillai, K. V. Shekar, J. B. Lane, K. J. Motil, S. A. Skinner, G. McGwin, D. C. Tarquinio5, D. G. Glaze, W. E. Kaufmann, A. K Percy, J. L. Neul, M. L. Olsen. Journal of Medical Genetics. Mar;51(3):152-8 2014 This article was featured as editor’s choice
PMID 24399845

Astrocyte Kir4.1 ion channel deficits contribute to neuronal dysfunction in Huntington's disease model mice, X. Tong, Y. Ao, GC Faas, SE Nwaobi, J Xu, MD Haustein, MA Anderson, I Mody, ML Olsen, MV Sofroniew, BS Khakh. Nature Neuroscience May;17(5):694-703 , 2014

Insufficient GLT-1 Glutamate Transport and Altered Astrocyte Biophysical Properties Contributes to Hyperexcitability in Cortical Dysplasia, , S.L. Campbell, J.J. Hablitz and M.L. Olsen, Frontiers in Molecular Neuroscience, Dec 17;8:425, 2014
PMID: 25565960

Elevated GFAP induces astrocyte dysfunction in caudal brain regions: a potential mechanism for hindbrain involved symptoms in type II Alexander Disease, HR Minkel, TZ Anwer, KM Arps, M Brenner, ML Olsen. in press, Glia, 2015

Emerging insight into the critical role of astrocyte ion channels in homeostasis and neuron-glia signaling. ML Olsen, B Khahk, N Rouch, S. Skatchkov, Z Min. Invited mini-review, in press, Journal of Neuroscience, 2015

Correlating gene-specific DNA methylation changes with expression and transcriptional activity of astrocytic KCNJ10 (Kir4.1), S.E. Nwaobi and M.L. Olsen, in press, Journal of Visualized Experiments, 2015

Book Chapters

Voltage-Gated Ion Channels in Glial Cells, M.L. Olsen, H. Sontheimer. Neuroglia, 2nd Edition, Oxford University Press, pp112-130, 2004

Whole-Cell Patch Clamp Recordings, Patch-Clamp Analysis: Advanced Techniques, Second Edition, H. Sontheimer and M.L. Olsen. Humana Press, pp35-68, 2008

Ionic Channels in Glia. M.L. Olsen and H. Sontheimer, Encyclopedia of Neuroscience, Oxford: Academic Press, volume 5, pp. 237-247. 2009 book cover art

Potassium Channel Function in Astrocytes, Astrocytes: Methods and Protocols, M.L. Olsen. Humana Press, Invited Review, ed. R. Milner, Springer Press, NY, 2012

Ionic Channels in Glia. Encyclopedia of Neuroscience, H. Sontheimer and M.L. Olsen, Oxford: Academic Press, Invited update, in press, 2015 

brain injury, neurodevelopmental disorders, spinal cord, astrocyte, potassium channel, glutamate transporter, epigenetics