Head of laboratory

Scientific Staff

Technician and administration staff

PhD Students

Asset 1 e.banach@nencki.edu.pl
Asset 1 n.chwin@nencki.edu.pl
Asset 1 k.gralec@nencki.edu.pl
Asset 1 j.przybys@nencki.edu.pl

Research profile

The Laboratory of Animal Models focuses on generation and analysis of animal models. Our main goal is to determine the effects of genetic modifications on cognitive functions, behavior and metabolism. The laboratory is well equipped with instruments necessary for the production of genetically modified animals. In addition, the laboratory serves as a “core-facility”, providing services for the production of genetically modified animals, cryopreservation of sperm and embryos and viral vector technology.

We offer service for scientific and commercial entities

• The production of transgenic mice and rats models together with genotyping and cryopreservation service. Transgenic mice and rats are produced by the standard method of “microinjection” and using lentiviral vectors

• The production of viral vectors (LV and AAV vectors) and genetic modification by stereo-tactic injections of lentiviral vector or AAV into various structures of the brain e.g. hippocampus, amygdala, hypothalamus etc

• Long-term metabolic studies. Metabolic cages enable continuous, long-term (several weeks) measuring parameters such as indirect calorimetry, XYZ physical activity, food and water intake and body weight

• The set of behavioral tests enabling the behavioral characterization of an animal. We perform the motor skills tests, exploratory tests, learning and memory tests using traditional instrumental conditioning (fear conditioning or operant conditioning) as well as automatic IntelliCages where mice are tested in social groups with limited influence of the experimenter

Current research activities

Current studies are focused on defining activity dependent gene expression in neurons, local synaptic plasticity, microRNA function in neurons and adipose tissue. Ultimately, all introduced genetic manipulation into animals  aim  to  show  their  influence  on  the  behavior and metabolism of the whole organism.


In particular we study

• Identity of cell subpopulation in the hypothalamus which is crucial for development of the obesity phenotype following microRNA loss in the forebrain of transgenic mutants (Vinnikov et al., 2014)

• The role of microRNAs in synaptic plasticity of neurons involved in the formation of the memory trace. We are looking for microRNAs involved in the regulation of the PI3K-Akt-mTOR pathway e.g. miR-103/107. We have recently shown that loss of all microRNAs enhances memory formation in mice (Konopka et al., 2010)

• The role of microRNAs in the cells of peripheral tissues involved in metabolism e.g. adipose tissue. We are focusing on investigating microRNAs induced during calorie restriction and their impact on subsequent motivation of animals to food seeking

• The role of CREB/CREM/ATF pathway disruption in adult neurogenesis of the ICER II overexpressing rat model. Disturbed neurogenesis may play a role in behavioral strategies of rats in the Morris Water Maze test

• Altered composition of synaptic proteins in TDP-43 transgenic  rat  model  that  shows  enhancement  in memory processing. TDP-43, a multifunctional RNA processing protein has been recognized as a hallmark of a range of neurodegenerative disorders.


Selected publications

Was H., Barszcz K., Czarnecka J., Kowalczyk A., Bernas T., Użarowska E., Koza P., Klejman A., Piwocka K., Kamińska B., Sikora E. (2017) Bafilomycin A1 triggers proliferative potential of senescent cancer cells in vitro and in NOD/SCID mice. Oncotarget. 8(6):9303-9322.

Stefaniuk M., Gualda EJ., Pawlowska M., Legutko D., Matryba P., Konopka W., Owczarek D., Wawrzyniak M., Loza-Alvarez P., Kaczmarek L. (2016) Light-sheet microscopy imaging of a whole cleared rat brain with Thy1-GFP transgene. Sci Rep. 6:28209.

Puścian A., Łęski S., Kasprowicz G., Winiarski M., Borowska J., Nikolaev T., Boguszewski P.M., Lipp H.P., Knapska E. (2016) Eco-HAB as a fully automated and ecologically relevant assessment of social impairments in mouse models of autism. Elife, doi: 10.7554/eLife.19532.

Vinnikov I.A., Hajdukiewicz K., Reymann J., Beneke J., Czajkowski R., Roth L.C., Novak M., Roller A., Dörner N., Starkuviene V., Theis F.J., Erfle H., Schütz G., Grinevich V., Konopka W. (2014) Hypothalamic miR-103 protects from hyperphagic obesity in mice. J Neurosci, 34(32):10659-74.

Kiryk A., Sowodniok K., Kreiner G., Rodriguez-Parkitna J., Sönmez A., Górkiewicz T., Bierhoff H., Wawrzyniak M., Janusz A.K., Liss B., Konopka W., Schütz  G.,  Kaczmarek  L.,  Parlato  R.  (2013)  Impaired  rRNA  synthesis  triggers  homeostatic  responses  in  hippocampal  neurons. Front Cell Neurosci, 7:207.