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Faculty Detail    
Campus Address SHEL 1002 Zip 2182
Phone  205-975-4659
Other websites

Faculty Appointment(s)
Appointment Type Department Division Rank
Primary  Neurobiology  Neurobiology Professor
Secondary  Cell, Developmntl, & Integrative Biology  Cell, Developmntl, & Integrative Biology Professor
Secondary  Neurology   Neurology Chair Office Professor
Secondary  Psychology  Psychology Professor
Center  Civitan International Research Center  Civitan International Research Center Professor
Center  General Clinical Research Center  Comprehensive Neuroscience Center Professor
Center  Ctr for Glial Bio in Med  Ctr for Glial Bio in Med Professor
Center  Vision Sciences  Vision Science Research Center Professor

Graduate Biomedical Sciences Affiliations
Cell, Molecular, & Developmental Biology 
Cellular and Molecular Biology Program 
Genetics, Genomics and Bioinformatics 
Integrative Biomedical Sciences 
Medical Scientist Training Program 
Neuroscience Graduate Program 

Biographical Sketch 
Lucas Pozzo-Miller completed his undergraduate studies in Biology (M.Sc., 1986) and earned his graduate degree from the Universidad Nacional de Córdoba, Argentina (Ph.D., 1989). He trained as postdoctoral fellow at Case Western Reserve University, Cleveland OH, with Dr. Dennis Landis (1990-1992), and at the former Roche Institute of Molecular Biology, Nutley NJ, with Dr. John Connor (1992-1995). He performed research at the Marine Biological Laboratory, Woods Hole MA, with Dr. Rodolfo Llinás (1994 Grass Foundation Fellow, and 1995 Lakian Foundation Fellow). He held a Senior Staff Fellow position at the National Institutes of Health, Bethesda MD, in the laboratory of Dr. Thomas Reese (1995-1998). He joined the faculty of the Department of Neurobiology at The University of Alabama at Birmingham in 1998, and is currently a Professor of Neurobiology.

Society Memberships
Organization Name Position Held Org Link
Society for Neuroscience  Member 
The American Physiological Society  Member 

Research/Clinical Interest
Neurotrophins in Synapse Development and Plasticity, and Intellectual Disabilities (e.g. Rett Syndrome)
The long-term interest of the Pozzo-Miller lab is to characterize the functional role of structurally defined neuronal compartments such as dendritic spines and presynaptic terminals, and how they participate in synaptic development, function and plasticity as they relate to learning and memory. We focus on the hippocampus due to its well-known role in learning and memory. Neurotrophins such as brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF) are secretory proteins that regulate neuronal survival and differentiation, as well as synapse development, function and plasticity. Neurotrophic factors are strong candidates to provide the molecular signaling pathways mediating complex interactions leading to appropriate dendritic maturation and synapse development. We focus on the actions of neurotrophins in the hippocampus to characterize the regulation of synaptic transmission and plasticity by slow-acting non-classical neuromodulators. Currently, we are investigating the “BDNF hypothesis” of Rett syndrome, a neurodevelopmental disorder associated with autistic features and intellectual disabilities that is caused by mutations in MECP2, a transcriptional regulator of many genes, including Bdnf. In our studies, we apply several functional and structural approaches to acute and cultured slices of hippocampus, including intracellular whole-cell recordings, Ca2+ and voltage-dye imaging, confocal microscopy, synaptic vesicle recycling with FM dyes, multiphoton excitation microscopy, as well as conventional and rapid-freezing electron microscopy.

Selected Publications 
Publication PUBMEDID
Amaral MD, Pozzo-Miller L. (2007) BDNF Induces Calcium Elevations Associated with IBDNF, a Non-Selective Cationic Current Mediated by TRPC Channels. J Neurophysiol. 2007 Aug 15; [Epub ahead of print]   17699689 
Hojjati MR, van Woerden GM, Tyler WJ, Giese KP, Silva AJ, Pozzo-Miller L, Elgersma Y. (2007) Kinase activity is not required for alphaCaMKII-dependent presynaptic plasticity at CA3-CA1 synapses. Nat Neurosci. 2007 Sep;10(9):1125-7. Epub 2007 Jul 29.   17660813 
Moore CD, Thacker EE, Larimore J, Gaston D, Underwood A, Kearns B, Patterson SI, Jackson T, Chapleau C, Pozzo-Miller L, Theibert A. (2007) The neuronal Arf GAP centaurin {alpha}1 modulates dendritic differentiation. J Cell Sci. 2007 Aug 1;120(Pt 15):2683-93. Epub 2007 Jul 17.   17635995 
Amaral MD, Pozzo-Miller L. (2007) TRPC3 channels are necessary for brain-derived neurotrophic factor to activate a nonselective cationic current and to induce dendritic spine formation. J Neurosci. 2007 May 9;27(19):5179-89.   17494704 
Amaral MD, Chapleau CA, Pozzo-Miller L. (2007) Transient receptor potential channels as novel effectors of brain-derived neurotrophic factor signaling: potential implications for Rett syndrome.
Pharmacol Ther. 2007 Feb;113(2):394-409. Epub 2006 Nov 21 
Pozzo-Miller L (2006). BDNF enhances dendritic Ca(2+) signals evoked by coincident EPSPs and back-propagating action potentials in CA1 pyramidal neurons. Brain Research 1104:45-54.  16797499 
Tyler WJ, Zhang XL, Hartman, K, Winterer J, Muller W, Stanton PK, Pozzo-Miller, L (2006). BDNF increases release probability and the size of a rapidly recycling vesicle pool within rat hippocampal excitatory synapses. Journal of Physiology (London) 574: 787-803.  16709633 
Kushner SA, Elgersma Y, Murphy GG, Jaarsma D, van Woerden GM, Hojjati MR, Cui Y, LeBoutillier JC, Marrone DF, Choi ES, De Zeeuw CI, Petit TL, Pozzo-Miller L, Silva A (2005). Modulation of presynaptic plasticity and learning by the H-ras/extracellular signal-regulated kinase/synapsin I signaling pathway. Journal of Neuroscience 25: 9721-9734.  16237176 
Alonso M, Medina JH, Pozzo-Miller L (2004). ERK1/2 activation is necessary for BDNF to increase dendritic spine density in hippocampal CA1 pyramidal neurons. Learning and Memory 11: 172-178.  15054132 
Tyler WJ & L Pozzo-Miller (2003). BDNF and miniature synaptic transmission modulate dendritic spine growth and form in hippocampal CA1 pyramidal neurons. Journal of Physiology (London) 553: 497-509.  14500767 
Pivovarova NB, LD Pozzo-Miller, J Hongpaisan & SB Andrews (2002). Correlated calcium uptake and release by mitochondria and endoplasmic reticulum of CA3 hippocampal dendrites after afferent synaptic stimulation. Journal of Neuroscience 22: 10653-10661.  12486158 
Tyler WJ, Perrett S & LD Pozzo-Miller (2002). The role of neurotrophins in neurotransmitter release. The Neuroscientist 8: 524-531.  12467374 
Tao-Cheng J-H, L Vinade, LD Pozzo-Miller, TS Reese & A Dosemeci (2002). Calcium/calmoludin-dependent protein kinase II clusters in adult rat hippocampal slices. Neuroscience 115: 435-440.  12421609 
Tyler WJ, MA Alonso, CR Bramham & LD Pozzo-Miller (2002). From acquisition to consolidation: on the role of brain-derived neurotrophic factor signaling in hippocampal-dependent learning. Learning & Memory 9: 224-237.  12359832 
McCutchen ME, Bramham C & LD Pozzo-Miller (2002). Modulation of neuronal Ca2+ signaling by neurotrophic factors. International Journal of Developmental Neuroscience 20: 199-207.  12175855 
Dosemeci A, J-H Tao-Cheng, L Vinade, LD Pozzo-Miller & TS Reese (2001). Glutamate-induced transient modification of the postsynaptic density. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the USA, 98: 10428-10432.  11517322 
Tartaglia N, J Du, WJ Tyler, E Neale, LD Pozzo-Miller & B Lu (2001). Protein synthesis dependent and independent regulation of hippocampal synapses by brain-derived neurotrophic factor. Journal of Biological Chemistry, 276: 37585-37593  11483592 
Tyler WJ & LD Pozzo-Miller (2001). BDNF enhances quantal neurotransmitter release and increases the number of docked vesicles at the active zones of hippocampal excitatory synapses. Journal of Neuroscience 21: 4249-4258.  11404410 
Pozzo-Miller LD, JA Connor & SB Andrews (2000). Microheterogeneity of calcium signaling in dendrites. Journal of Physiology (London) 525: 53-61.  10811724 
Pozzo-Miller LD, W Gottschalk, L Zhang, K McDermott, J Du, R Gopalakrishnan, C Oho, ZH Sheng & B Lu (1999). Impairments in high-frequency transmission, synaptic vesicle docking, and synaptic protein distribution in the hippocampus of BDNF knockout mice. Journal of Neuroscience 19: 4972-4983.  10366630 

BDNF, Ca2+, Synapse, Rett Syndrome, Hippocampus, Dendritic Spines, MecP2, Autism, Intellectual Disability