What we do: We answer both applied and basic questions about how the nervous system helps animals survive in their environments. On the applied side, we study animals that evolved ways to avoid damage to the nervous system. We focus most of our efforts on challenges to the nervous system that tend to be big problems in many human diseases. These include inactivity of neuromuscular systems (think, “if you don’t use it you lose it”) and impaired oxygen transport (think, brain damage in stroke and cardiac arrest). By learning from animals that already “know” how to get around these problems, we up our chances of finding new solutions. On the basic side, we use this approach to make new discoveries about how nervous systems use plasticity to help animals adapt to their environments. To do this, we take fundamental concepts about plasticity that were developed outside of real-life contexts (e.g., cell culture, lab settings, modeling, etc.) and test how they work in situations where animals may need them to survive. This allows us to put together new ideas about how these processes are important for behavior and why they may have evolved.

How we do it: We tend to ask questions using the neural system that regulates breathing in amphibians for two reasons. First, breathing is a tractable, rhythmic behavior that is easily studied across scales of organization (genes to proteins to cells to networks to behavior) compared to other behaviors like learning and memory. Second, amphibians have interesting life history traits that allow us to ask questions about how different forms of plasticity have adaptive importance in nature. On the technical side, we use an integrative approach that spans whole animal behavior down to the molecular biology of single neurons. We use a range of tools that include patch-clamp electrophysiology to study electrical properties of neurons, single-cell quantitative PCR and RNA sequencing to assess gene expression in individual neurons, in vivo measurements of behavior (measurements of breathing and EMG to record muscle activity), extracellular recording to measure circuit activity, and fluorescence imaging microscopy.

Interests
Cellular neuroscience, comparative neurobiology, electrophysiology

Education
Ph.D., Wright State University


Research:
What we do: We answer both applied and basic questions about how the nervous system helps animals survive in their environments. On the applied side, we study animals that evolved ways to avoid damage to the nervous system. We focus most of our efforts on challenges to the nervous system that tend to be big problems in many human diseases. These include inactivity of neuromuscular systems (think, “if you don’t use it you lose it”) and impaired oxygen transport (think, brain damage in stroke and cardiac arrest). By learning from animals that already “know” how to get around these problems, we up our chances of finding new solutions. On the basic side, we use this approach to make new discoveries about how nervous systems use plasticity to help animals adapt to their environments. To do this, we take fundamental concepts about plasticity that were developed outside of real-life contexts (e.g., cell culture, lab settings, modeling, etc.) and test how they work in situations where animals may need them to survive. This allows us to put together new ideas about how these processes are important for behavior and why they may have evolved.

Recent Publications:
Adams, S., Zubov, T., Bueschke, N., & Santin, J. M. Neuromodulation or energy failure? Metabolic limitations silence network output in the hypoxic amphibian brainstem. American Journal of Physiology-Regulatory, Integrative and Comparative Physiology. 2020. In press. doi.org/10.1152/ajpregu.00209.2020

Burton, M. T., & Santin, J.M. A direct excitatory action of lactate ions in the central respiratory network. 2020. Journal of Experimental Biology. In press. doi: 10.1242/jeb.235705
Northcutt, N.J., Kick, D.R., Otopalik, A.G., Goetz, B.M., Harris, R.M., Santin, J.M., Hoffman, H.A., Marder, E., Schulz, D.J. Molecular profiling of single neurons of known identity in two ganglia from the crab Cancer borealis. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. 2019. doi: https://doi.org/10.1073/pnas.1911413116

Santin, J.M. Motor inactivity in hibernating frogs: Linking plasticity that stabilizes neuronal function to behavior in the natural environment. Developmental Neurobiology. 2019, in press doi: https://doi.org/10.1002/dneu.22721

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Cited By

Year

Microglial acid sensing regulates carbon dioxide-evoked fear

37

2016

Respiratory signaling of locus coeruleus neurons during hypercapnic acidosis in the bullfrog, Lithobates catesbeianus

21

2013

Temperature influences neuronal activity and CO2/pH sensitivity of locus coeruleus neurons in the bullfrog, Lithobates catesbeianus

16

2013

Membrane voltage is a direct feedback signal that influences correlated ion channel expression in neurons

15

2019

Chronic femoral artery ligation exaggerates the pressor and sympathetic nerve responses during dynamic skeletal muscle stretch in decerebrate rats

12

2018

Activation state of the hyperpolarization-activated current modulates temperature-sensitivity of firing in locus coeruleus neurons from bullfrogs

9

2015

A HCO3−-dependent mechanism involving soluble adenylyl cyclase for the activation of Ca2+ currents in locus coeruleus neurons

9

2014

Molecular profiling of single neurons of known identity in two ganglia from the crab Cancer borealis

8

2019

Synaptic up-scaling preserves motor circuit output after chronic, natural inactivity

7

2017

Environmentally induced return to juvenile‐like chemosensitivity in the respiratory control system of adult bullfrog, Lithobates catesbeianus

7

2016

Control of lung ventilation following overwintering conditions in bullfrogs, Lithobates catesbeianus

7

2016

Reassessment of chemical control of breathing in undisturbed bullfrogs, Lithobates catesbeianus, using measurements of pulmonary ventilation

7

2016

High fat feeding in rats alters respiratory parameters by a mechanism that is unlikely to be mediated by carotid body type I cells

5

2018

Effect of temperature on chemosensitive locus coeruleus neurons of savannah monitor lizards, Varanus exanthematicus

5

2016

How important is the CO2 chemoreflex for the control of breathing? Environmental and evolutionary considerations

4

2018

Noradrenergic modulation determines respiratory network activity during temperature changes in the in vitro brainstem of bullfrogs

3

2018

Activation of respiratory muscles does not occur during cold-submergence in bullfrogs, Lithobates catesbeianus

3

2017

Commentary: the spinal cord has an intrinsic system for the control of pH

2

2016

Cold‐acclimation reduces CO2 sensitivity of chemosensory locus coeruleus neurons of American bullfrogs, Lithobates catesbeianus

2

2015

Cold-acclimation reduces CO2/pH chemosensitivity of locus coeruleus neurons in the American bullfrog, Lithobates catesbieanus

2

2015

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