Carlos Portera-Cailliau, M.D., Ph.D.

Office Address:
710 Westwood Plaza
Los Angeles, CA 90095 710 Westwod Pl
Los Angeles, CA 90095

Professor, Neurology, Neurobiology
Member, Brain Research Institute, Neuroscience GPB Home Area
Research Interests
How are cortical circuits established during brain development? How do neurons recognize each other as appropriate synaptic partners? What strategies do axons use to elaborate their complex arbors? We want to answer these and other questions about cortical development using 2-photon microscopy in vivo and in brain slices together with electrophysiology and molecular biology. One goal is to investigate the mechanisms of synaptogenesis and how dendritic filopodia mature into dendritic spines, which has implications for various neuropsychiatric disorders such as fragile X syndrome. Here we use 2-photon imaging in vivo and image transgenic mice that express the green fluorescent protein (GFP). We also use in utero electroporation to transfect neural progenitors with GFP or other genes of interest. Another project is aimed at understanding how coordinated neuronal activity arises within developing networks of neurons in cortex. We use in vivo 2-photon calcium imaging to record and analyze the spatiotemporal patterns of activity within ensembles of neurons, as measured with fluorescent calcium indicator dyes such as Oregon green BAPTA-1AM. We are also interested in mechanisms of plasticity and neural repair in peri-infarct cortex after stroke. Using a middle cerebral artery occlusion model of stroke in mice, we carry out chronic in vivo imaging of dendritic spines and axons over periods of months in GFP-expressing mice to find out which neuronal structures participate in functional recovery after stroke.

The Portera-Cailliau laboratory investigates how developmental defects in network connectivity at the level of the cerebral cortex directly lead to symptoms of autism, learning disability and intellectual dysfunction. In particular they are studying sensory hypersensitivity in a model of fragile X syndrome, by combining in vivo two-photon calcium imaging, patch-clamp electrophysiology, and head-fixed behavior.  Dr. Portera-Cailliau was born and raised in Madrid, Spain. He obtained a B.A. in Biochemistry & Cell Biology from U.C. San Diego in 1990. He then attended the Johns Hopkins School of Medicine and obtained an MD-PhD degree in 1997. His mentors were Drs. Donald Price and Lee Martin. After finishing a residency in Neurology at The Massachusetts General Hospital and Brigham & Women's Hospital in Boston in 2001, Dr. Portera-Cailliau moved to Columbia University for a post-doctoral fellowship in Dr. Rafael Yuste's laboratory. His second post-doc was with Dr. Karel Svoboda in Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory. He joined the UCLA faculty in November 2004 and has joint appointments in the Departments of Neurology and Neurobiology. He is a member of UCLA's Brain Research Institute, the Integrated Center for Learning & Memory, and the Neuroscience Theme.  Since 2013 he has served as co-director of the UCLA-Caltech Medical Scientist Training Program.


A selected list of publications:

Goel Anubhuti, Cantu Daniel A, Guilfoyle Janna, Chaudhari Gunvant R, Newadkar Aditi, Todisco Barbara, de Alba Diego, Kourdougli Nazim, Schmitt Lauren M, Pedapati Ernest, Erickson Craig A, Portera-Cailliau Carlos   Impaired perceptual learning in a mouse model of Fragile X syndrome is mediated by parvalbumin neuron dysfunction and is reversible Nature neuroscience, 2018; 21(10): 1404-1411.
O'Donnell Cian, Gonçalves J Tiago, Portera-Cailliau Carlos, Sejnowski Terrence J   Beyond excitation/inhibition imbalance in multidimensional models of neural circuit changes in brain disorders eLife, 2017; 6(7): 56.
He Cynthia X, Cantu Daniel A, Mantri Shilpa S, Zeiger William A, Goel Anubhuti, Portera-Cailliau Carlos   Tactile Defensiveness and Impaired Adaptation of Neuronal Activity in the The Journal of neuroscience : the official journal of the Society for Neuroscience, 2017; 37(27): 6475-6487.
Contractor Anis, Klyachko Vitaly A, Portera-Cailliau Carlos   Altered Neuronal and Circuit Excitability in Fragile X Syndrome Neuron, 2015; 87(4): 699-715.
Mostany R, JA Anstey, KL Crump, B Maco, G Knott and C Portera-Cailliau   Altered synaptic dynamics during normal brain aging The Journal of Neuroscience, 2013; 33(9): 4094-4104.
Gonçalves JT, JE Anstey, P Golshani, and C Portera-Cailliau   Circuit level defects in the developing neocortex of fragile X mice Nature Neuroscience, 2013; 16: 903-909.
*Cheng Adrian, *Goncalves J Tiago, Golshani Peyman, Arisaka Katsushi, Portera-Cailliau Carlos   Simultaneous two-photon calcium imaging at different depths with spatiotemporal multiplexing Nature methods, 2011; .
Cruz-Martín Alberto, Crespo Michelle, Portera-Cailliau Carlos   Delayed stabilization of dendritic spines in fragile X mice The Journal of Neuroscience , 2010; 30(23): 7793-803.
Golshani Peyman, Gonçalves J Tiago, Khoshkhoo Sattar, Mostany Ricardo, Smirnakis Stelios, Portera-Cailliau Carlos   Internally mediated developmental desynchronization of neocortical network activity The Journal of Neuroscience, 2009; 29(35): 10890-9.
Holtmaat Anthony, Bonhoeffer Tobias, Chow David K, Chuckowree Jyoti, De Paola Vincenzo, Hofer Sonja B, Hübener Mark, Keck Tara, Knott Graham, Lee Wei-Chung A, Mostany Ricardo, Mrsic-Flogel Tom D, Nedivi Elly, Portera-Cailliau Carlos, Svoboda Karel, Trachtenberg Joshua T, Wilbrecht Linda   Long-term, high-resolution imaging in the mouse neocortex through a chronic cranial window Nature protocols, 2009; 4(8): 1128-44.