Welcome to our Center!

Our P30 Center, funded by the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA), provides proteomics, metabolomics and bioinformatics technologies to biological collaborators at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, and to members of the neuroscience community at other institutions in the United States and throughout the world. Our Center is built around the overarching theme of cell-cell signaling to advance state-of-the-art proteomics/metabolomics technologies focused on the study of addiction mechanisms in the central nervous system.

Why focus on cell-cell signaling? Intercellular signaling plays a crucial role in the organization and coordination of biological systems. A surprisingly large number of physicochemically and structurally distinct molecules are involved in communication among the cells of the brain, with more being discovered each year. These molecules range in size from the small nitric oxide molecule to large >100 kDa heavily post-translationally modified proteins. In addition, these are the endogenous molecules many of the drugs of abuse mimic in terms of receptor binding and other functions. Therefore, these molecules are particularly relevant in drug abuse research and present high-value targets for pharmacological intervention.

Center Structure

Services are provided to support our collaborators' projects via three synergistic scientific research cores: Sampling & Separation, Molecular Profiling & Characterization, and Bioinformatics & Systems Biology. A fourth Administrative core offers the support necessary to promote and maintain innovative scientific interactions while facilitating interactions among the three individual research cores and Center collaborators.

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Sampling & Separation


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Molecular Profiling...


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Our Center's Goals include:

  • Providing metabolomics / peptidomics / proteomics measurement capabilities and bioinformatics services to the Illinois, national and international neuroscience communities working on both fundamental neuroscience research and the study of drug addiction mechanisms.

  • Discovering the functional roles of metabolites, peptides and proteins in cell-cell signaling, memory, behavior and addiction.

  • Creating improved MS-based molecular characterization technologies to enable new investigations of cell-cell signaling.

  • Integrating proteomic and transcriptomic information in support of more accurate molecular identification and molecular network inference using systems biology approaches.

Featured Collaborator

The Center has been working on a number of research projects with Prof. Martha U. Gilette, dating back to 2007, most recently focusing on the effects of several neuropeptides present at specific times of day and their effect on the circadian clock. These ongoing collaborations have resulted in several important publications, some of which are listed below:

Comparing Label-free Quantitative Peptidomics Approaches to Characterize Diurnal Variation of Peptides in the Rat Suprachiasmatic Nucleus, Southey et al., Anal. Chem., 86, 2014, 443–452.

Signals from the Brainstem Sleep/Wake Centers Regulate Behavioral Timing via the CIrcadian Clock, Abbott et al., PLoS One 8, 2013, e70481.

Quantitative Peptidomics for Discovery of Circadian-related Peptides from the Rat Suprachiasmatic Nucleus,Lee et al., J. Proteome Res. 12, 2013, 585–593.

Circadian Rhythm of Redox State Regulates Excitability in Suprachiasmatic Nucleus Neurons, Wang et al., Science 337, 2012, 839–842.

Featured Articles

A D-Amino Acid-Containing Neuropeptide Discovery Funnel, Livnat et al., Anal. Chem. 88, 2016, 11868–11876.

The Ctenophore Genome and the Evolutionary Origins of Neural Systems, Moroz et al., Nature 510, 2014,109–114.

Storage and Uptake of D-Serine into Astrocytic Synaptic-like Vesicles Specify Gliotransmission, Martineau et. al., J. Neuroscience. 33, 2013, 3413–3423.

Comparative Peptidomics Analysis of Neural Adaptations in Rats Repeatedly Exposed to Amphetamine, Romanova et al., J. Neurochem. 123, 2012, 276–287.