Julia Lemos, Ph.D.

Assistant Professor, Department of Neuroscience

E-MAIL: jlemos@umn.edu


Research Interests:

The Lemos Laboratory investigates how stress is processed and encoded in the brain. Importantly, the lab is interested in understanding how stressors impinge on the brain to alter behavioral responses and outcomes. We are particularly interested in examining how stress-associated neuropeptides regulate the function of neural circuits important for motivation and emotion. My work has focuses on the interaction between neuropeptides such as corticotropin releasing factor (CRF) and dynorphin with monoamine systems such as serotonin and dopamine. In the coming years we will continue to look at these interactions as well as the actions of CRF and dynorphin on network function of motivational circuits such as the striatum. We are also invested in understanding how chronic or traumatic stress renders the brain vulnerable to disease states such as depression, anxiety and addiction.

We use a multidisciplinary technical approach to tackle these questions. Specifically, the lab uses and has expertise in the following techniques: ex vivo slice electrophysiology, ex vivo slice voltammetry, fluorescent in situ hybridization, fluorescent immunohistochemistry, confocal imaging, optogenetics, chemogenetics, transgenics and behavior.  Furthermore, we are in the process of setting up in vivo fiber photometry techniques to record activity of specific cell-types in awake behaving animals.

Selected Publications:

(For a comprehensive list of recent publications, refer to PubMed, a service provided by the National Library of Medicine.)

  • Al-Hasani R, Gowrishankar R, Schmitz GP, Pedersen CE, Marcus DJ, Shirley SE, Hobbs TE, Elerding AJ, Renaud SJ, Jing M, Li Y, Alvarez VA, Lemos JC, Bruchas MR.Ventral tegmental area GABAergic inhibition of cholinergic interneurons in the ventral nucleus accumbens shell promotes reward reinforcement. Nat Neurosci. 2021 Oct;24(10):1414-1428.
  • Ingebretson AE, Lemos JC. A spotlight on the elusive striatal cholinergic interneuron. Science. 2021 Apr 23;372(6540):345-346.
  • Steger JS, Land BB, Lemos JC, Chavkin C, Phillips PEM. Insidious transmission of a stress-related neuroadaptation. Front Behav Neurosci. 2020 Oct 5;14:564054.
  • Adrover MF, Shin JH, Quiroz C, Ferré S, Lemos JC, Alvarez VA. Prefrontal cortex-driven dopamine signals in the striatum show unique spatial and pharmacological properties. J Neurosci. 2020;40(39):7510-7522.
  • Alvarez VA, Lemos JC. The upside of stress: a mechanism for the positive motivational role of corticotropin releasing factor. Neuropsychopharmacology. 2020;45(1):219-220.
  • Lemos JC, Shin JH, Alvarez VA. Striatal cholinergic interneurons are a novel target of corticotropin releasing factor. J Neurosci.2019;39(29):5647-5661.
  • Dobbs LK*, Lemos JC,* Alvarez VA. Restructuring of basal ganglia circuitry and associated behaviors triggered by low striatal D2 receptor expression: implications for substance use disorders. Genes Brain Behav. 2017;16(1):56-70.  *co-first author listed in alphabetical order
  • Lemos JC, Friend DM, Kaplan AR, Shin JH, Rubinstein M, Kravitz AV, Alvarez VA. Enhanced GABA transmission drives bradykinesia following loss of dopamine D2 receptor signaling. Neuron;90(4):824-838.
  • Dobbs LK, Kaplan AR, Lemos JC, Matsui A, Rubinstein MR, Alvarez VA. Dopamine regulation of lateral inhibition between striatal neurons gates the stimulant actions of cocaine. Neuron. 2016;90(5):1100-1113.
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