Simon Pieraut

Assistant Professor
Simon Pieraut headshot


  • 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

Research interests

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.

Courses taught

  • BIOL 315 (Cell Biology)
    • Undergraduate level. University of Nevada, Reno.
    • This is a core course for biology majors that provides foundational instruction in Cell Biology. The average enrollment is 120 students/semester. Recent scientific discoveries are included to illustrate fundamental principles about cell biology and function.
  • BIOL 671/471 (Neurobiology of Mental Illness)
    • Undergraduate and graduate level. University of Nevada, Reno.
    • The course covers neurobiological mechanisms involved in the pathophysiology of major psychiatric disorders. It is a popular course among Neuroscience majors, Neuroscience and psychology graduate students and pre-med students. The average enrollment is ~50 students/semester.


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

Selected publications

  • Hui CK, Chen N, Chakraborty A, Alaasam V, Pieraut S and Ouyang JQ, Dim artificial light at night alters immediate early gene expression throughout the avian brain. Front. Neurosci. 2023.
  • Rukundo P., Feng T., Pham V., Pieraut S.*, Moderate effect of early-life experience on dentate gyrus function. Molecular Brain 2022. *corresponding author
  • Huang M., Pieraut S., Cao J., de Souza Polli P, Roncace V, Shen G, Anton Maximov A., Nr4a1 regulates inhibitory circuit structure and function in the mouse brain bioRxiv. 2022.
  • Allen K., Olvera R., Kumar M., Feng T., Pieraut S., and Hoy J., A binocular perception deficit characterizes prey pursuit in developing mice. iScience, 2022.
  • Feng T, Alicea C, Pham V, Kirk A, Pieraut S*, Experience-dependent inhibitory plasticity is mediated by CCK+ basket cells in the developing dentate gyrus, J Neurosci. 2021 May 26;41(21):4607-4619. *corresponding author
  • Alaasam VJ, Liu X, Niu Y, Habibian JS, Pieraut S, Ferguson BS, Zhang Y, Ouyang JQ. Effects of dim artificial light at night on locomotor activity, cardiovascular physiology, and circadian clock genes in a diurnal songbird. Environ Pollut. 2021 Aug 1;282:117036.
  • Bae B, Gruner HN, Lynch M, Feng T, So K, Oliver D, Mastick GS, Yan W, Pieraut S, Miura P. Elimination of Calm1 long 3' UTR mRNA isoform by CRISPR-Cas9 gene editing impairs dorsal root ganglion development and hippocampal neuron activation in mice. RNA. 2020.
  • Dillingham B., Cameron P., Pieraut S., Cardozo L., Yoo E., Maximov A., Stowers L., Mayford M., Fear Learning Induces Long-Lasting Changes in Gene Expression and Pathway Specific Presynaptic Growth. bioRxiv. 2019.
  • Lobanova A, She R, Pieraut S, Clapp C, Maximov A, Denchi EL. Different requirements of functional telomeres in neural stem cells and terminally differentiated neurons. Genes Dev. 2017 Apr 1;31(7):639-647.
  • 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 Rep. 2015 May 19;11(7):1054-66.
  • Pieraut S, Gounko N, Sando R 3rd, Dang W, Rebboah E, Panda S, Madisen L, Zeng H, Maximov A. Experience-dependent remodeling of basket cell networks in the dentate gyrus. Neuron. 2014 Oct 1;84(1):107-122.
  • 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 Apr 10;78(1):94-108.
  • 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.
  • 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 Nov 9;151(4):821-834.
  • 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 Sep 21;31(38):13516-26.

See more publications on Simon Pieraut's Google Scholar