Thomas Papouin, PhD

Assistant Professor of Neuroscience

Papouin Lab | Google Scholar Profile | ResearchGate Profile | Neurotree


Research

Since its inception, Neuroscience has focused on neurons as the single most relevant cellular component of the nervous system for understanding its inner workings. Yet, parts of the mammalian brain are only comprised of 10-20% of neurons. Research in the Papouin laboratory explores the role played by the remaining 80-90% of “non-neuronal” cells, called glial cells, in brain function. The lab focusses on astrocytes, a sub-class of glial cells that has the ability to respond to different forms of brain activity and release signaling molecules that influence neuronal function. The goal of the Papouin lab is to understand how astrocytes contribute to information processing in the brain, at the molecular scale, circuit level, and in behaving animals.

Rather than studying astrocytes as a standalone entity, the lab studies the place they occupy in brain circuitry, and the role they play in brain computation, from the perspective of brain states. Mounting evidence suggest that astrocytes sense and respond to slow, volume-transmitted neuromodulators. This is interesting because these signals are released in the brain during specific vigilance states (e.g. wakefulness), or behavioral states (e.g. exploratory behavior). In parallel, it has also become clear that a single astrocyte can influence hundreds of neurons and thousands of synapses in its territory, by releasing molecules known as gliotransmitters. But the determinants that govern this secretory activity are ill-defined and its temporal dynamics are surprisingly slow. In the Papouin lab, we explore the idea that astrocytes are a conditioning entity that shapes the underlying neuronal network, via gliotransmitter release, to the ongoing brain state – a notion we coined “contextual guidance”. Therefore, the lab studies the interplay between neuromodulation and gliotransmission by asking 1) how neuromodulators affect the activity of astrocytes, 2) how neuromodulators couple to gliotransmitter release, 3) how this impacts synaptic properties and the rules of synaptic integration, 4) what are the spatial boundaries of such local relay of state-dependent information by astrocytes (i.e. is it brain region-specific or restricted to astrocytic networks?) and 5) how this participates to cognitive functions and behavioral performance.

The lab’s line of research is inherently relevant to several brain disorders and our projects also aim at elucidating the contribution of astrocytes to neuropsychiatric conditions, such as schizophrenia and depression, and cognitive disorders associated with sleep loss.


Selected publications

  • Nagai J., Yu X., Papouin T., Cheong E., Freeman MR., Monk KR., Hastings MH., Haydon PG., Rowitch D., Shaham S., Khakh BS. Behaviorally consequential astrocytic regulation of neural circuits (2021). Neuron. 2021 Feb 17;109(4):576-596. doi: 10.1016/j.neuron.2020.12.008. Epub 2020 Dec 31.
  • Smith S, Chen X, Brier L, Bumstead J, Rensing N, Epstein A, Crowley J, Bice A, Dikranian K, Ippolito J, Haigis M, Papouin T, Zhao G, Wong M, Culver JP, Bonni A (2020). Astrocyte deletion of α2-Na/K ATPase triggers episodic motor paralysis in mice via a metabolic pathway. Nat Communications. 11(1):6164.
  • Nagai J., Yu X., Papouin T., Cheong E., Freeman MR., Monk KR., Hastings MH., Haydon PG., Rowitch D., Shaham S., Khakh BS. Behaviorally consequential astrocytic regulation of neural circuits (2021). Neuron. 2021 Feb 17;109(4):576-596. doi: 10.1016/j.neuron.2020.12.008. Epub 2020 Dec 31.
  • Christian DL., Wu DY., Martin JR., Moore JR., Liu YR., Clemens AW., Nettles SA., Kirkland NM., Papouin T., Hill CA., Wozniak FD., Dougherty JD., Gabel HW. (2020). DNMT3A haplo-insufficiency results in behavioral deficits and global epigenomic dysregulation 2 shared across neurodevelopment disorders. Cell Reports. 33(8):108416.
  • Manno R., Witte J., Papouin T. (2020). A modular set-up to run a large line of behavioral testing in mice in a single space. Current Protocols in Neuroscience. 93(1):e102.
  • Ozawa M., Davis P., Ni J., Maguire J., Papouin T. & Reijmers L. (2020). Experience-dependent resonance in amygdalo-cortical circuits supports fear memory retrieval following extinction. Nature Communications. 11(1):4358.

See a complete list of Dr. Papouin’s publications on PubMed.


Education

2007-2011, PhD, Neuroscience and Pharmacology, University of Bordeaux, Bordeaux, France

2005-2007, MSc, Integrative Biology and Physiology, specialized in Neuroscience, Ecole Normale Supérieure (Ulm), Institut Pasteur, Université Pierre et Marie Curie, Paris, France

2004-2005, BS, Biology, Ecole Normale Supérieure (Ulm), Université Pierre et Marie Curie, Paris, France


Selected honors

2020-2022 NARSAD Young Investigator Grant/Brain & Behavior Research Foundation Award – named “Let the Sun Shine Run Investigator” by Kathy and Curt Robbins

2020 McDonnell Center for Cellular and Molecular Neurobiology, small grant award

2020-2023 Whitehall Foundation Inc. Research Grant

2020 Investigator Matching Center for Drug Discovery Micro Grant

2013-2016 Human Frontier Science Program long-term Fellowship, 61 awarded worldwide

2013-2014 Philippe Foundation Inc. Research Awards

2008-2011 French Ministry of Education and Research Fellowship

2004-2008 French Ministry of Education and Research Studentship, 21 awarded nationwide