Simon Pieraut

Simon Pieraut

Assistant Professor


The goal of our research is to decipher the molecular and cellular mechanisms underlying inhibitory neural plasticity. Virtually every neural circuit in the mammalian forebrain incorporates local inhibitory interneurons that tune the activity of their postsynaptic partners. While vastly outnumbered by principal excitatory cells, these interneurons play key roles in many facets of the brain function; from the processing of sensory information to the performance of complex cognitive tasks. Similarly to their excitatory counterpart, the inhibitory cell population undergo perpetual experience-driven remodeling of their connection throughout life and this plasticity is essential for shaping their network during development as well as for learning, and acquisition of memory in adult. Increasing evidence suggests that maladaptive plasticity mechanisms lead to the alteration of the inhibitory network and ultimately to circuit dysfunction that may contribute to a broad spectrum of neurological disorders in humans.

A major challenge of dissecting the principles of inhibitory network plasticity is the diversity of the interneuron population. There are a myriad of inhibitory subtypes that exhibit unique molecular profiles, morphologies, innervation patterns, and physiological properties. Taking advantage of genetic manipulations in mice with contemporary viral delivery methods we focus our research on inhibitory Parvalbumin expressing basket cells (PV). Our previous work sheds light on a new form of plasticity that regulate the branching pattern of their axons in response to change in the excitatory inputs. Using a multidisciplinary approach that combines chemical- and light-activated receptors and channels with electrophysiological and imaging readouts, we investigate molecular and cellular mechanisms regulating PV synapse formation and their structural plasticity. Our major endeavor aims at addressing fundamental questions of how GABAergic neurons shape a coherent inhibitory network during development and how it is adjusted in response to experience. Ultimately we wish to identify genes whose function are critical for appropriate adaptive plasticity in mice as we believe it will set the premise to link genetic predispositions with the etiology of neurodevelopmental diseases and improve our understanding of the pathophysiology of such disorders in humans.


  • Assistant Professor, Department of Biology, University of Nevada, Reno, 2016 - present
  • Research Associate (Laboratory of Anton Maximov), The Scripps Research Institute, La Jolla, CA, 2009-2016
  • Ph.D. student, Research Assistant (Laboratory of Frederique Scamps), Institute of Neuroscience Montpellier, Montpellier, France, 2004-2009


  • Ph.D., Neurobiology, Science University of Montpellier, France, 2008
  • M.S., Neurobiology, Science University of Montpellier, France, 2004
  • B.S., Animal Physiology, Science University of Nancy, France, 2003


  • Shimojo M., Courchet J., Pieraut S., Torabi-Rander N., Sando R 3rd., Polleux F., Maximov A. SNAREs Controlling Vesicular Release of BDNF and Development of Callosal Axons. Cell Report 2015 
  • Pieraut S., Gounko NV., Sando R. 3rd, Dang W., Rebboah E., Panda S., Madisen L., Zeng H., Maximov A. Experience-Dependent Remodeling of Basket Cell Network in the Dentate Gyrus. Neuron 2014 
  • Sando R. 3rd, Baumgaertel K., Pieraut S., Torabi-Rander N., Wandless TJ., Mayford M., Maximov A. Inducible control of gene expression with destabilized Cre. Nat Methods 2013 
  • Mairet-Coello G., Courchet J., Pieraut S., Courchet V., Maximov A., Polleux F. The CAMKK2-AMPK kinase pathway mediates the synaptotoxic effects of Aβ oligomers through Tau phosphorylation. Neuron 2013 
  • Sando R. 3rd, Gounko N., Pieraut S., Liao L., Yates J. 3rd, Maximov A. HDAC4 Governs a Transcriptional Program Essential for Synaptic Plasticity and Memory. Cell 2012 
  • Pieraut S., Lucas O., Sangari S., Sar C., Boudes M., Bouffi C., Noel D., Scamps F. An autocrine neuronal interleukin-6 loop mediates chloride accumulation and NKCC1 phosphorylation in axotomized sensory neurons. J Neurosci 2011 
  • Boudes M., Pieraut S., Valmier J., Carroll P., Scamps F. Single-cell electroporation of adult sensory neurons for gene screening with RNA interference mechanism. J Neurosci Methods 2008 
  • Aptel H., Hilaire C., Pieraut S., Boukhaddaoui H., Mallié S., Valmier J., Scamps F. The Cav3.2/alpha1H T-type Ca2+ current is a molecular determinant of excitatory effects of GABA in adult sensory neurons. Mol Cell Neurosci. 2007 
  • Pieraut S., Laurent-Matha V., Sar C., Hubert T., Méchaly I., Hilaire C., Mersel M., Delpire E., Valmier J., Scamps F. NKCC1 phosphorylation stimulates neurite growth of injured adult sensory neurons. J Neurosci. 2007 
  • Pieraut S., Boukhaddaoui H., Scamps F., Dayanithi G., Sieso V., Valmier J. Spontaneous glutamate release controls NT-3-dependent development of hippocampal calbindin-D(28k) phenotype through activation of sodium channels ex vivo. Eur J Neurosci. 2007