Neuroscience in Denmark

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General information

Name (center, department, group or other)
Kiehn Lab, Department of Neuroscience, University of Copenhagen
Contact name
Ole Kiehn
Contact email
Contact title
15. February 2018

Brief description of research activities

Kiehn lab studies the molecular, cellular, and network diversification of locomotor circuitries in mammals with the goal of providing a unified understanding of the functional organization of neuronal circuits that execute movements. To this end, we apply new physiological and molecular genetic approaches, including optogenetics, RNA-seq, molecular tracing, advanced imaging, and electrophysiology.
We have deciphered the functional organization of spinal circuitries necessary for producing changes in timing and coordination of locomotion, and delineated brainstem circuits involved in gating or context-dependent selection of motor behaviors. The lab also investigates plasticity in spinal networks and motor neurons following lesions of the spinal cord, with the goal of devising manipulations that may alleviate motor dysfunction following spinal cord injury.In recent efforts, we also address the role of spinal interneurons in development and progression of amyotrophic lateral sclerosis.
Our work bridges the gap between neuronal circuit organization and behaviour, and has strong translational potential in development of therapies for movement disorders caused by trauma or disease.


Motor control, spinal cord, brainstem, spinal cord injury, ALS, Parkinson's Diesease.

Research tools and techniques

Production of transgenic mice lines: Vglut2Cre (Borgius et al. 2010), Vglut2GFP (Calderia et al. 2017), Vglut2ChR2 (Hagglund et al. 2010), Hoxb8Flipo, R26CAGfrt/stop/flxstopGaMP3 tailored for the locomotor experiments.
Application of genetically driven tracing: trans-synaptic tracing with attenuated rabies/AAV.
mRNA seq of interneurons in the spinal cord.
In vitro electrophysiology in isolated spinal cord-brainstem, including calcium- imaging and optogenetics.
In vivo electrophysiology, optogenetic, chemogenetic, and motor neurobehavioral analyses of acute and chronic perturbations (MotoRater; open field, treadmill etc).
Clarity-clearing of tissue and imaging.

Scientific Personnel

No of Associate Professors/Postdocs: 5
No of PhD students: 3
Other: 2

Key references from within the last 5 years

Caggiano V, Leiras R, Goñi-Erro H, Masini D, Bellardita C, Bouvier J, Caldeira V, Fisone G, Kiehn O (2018). idbrain circuits that set locomotor speed and gait selection. Nature Jan 17. doi: 10.1038/nature25448
Bellardita C, Caggiano V, Leiras R, Caldeira V, Fuchs A, Bouvier J, Löw P, Kiehn O (2017). Spatiotemporal correlation of spinal network dynamics underlying spasms in chronic spinalized mice Elife; 6. pii: e23011.
Kiehn O (2016). Decoding the organization of spinal circuits that control locomotion. Nature Review Neuroscience 17(4): 224-238.
Bouvier J, Caggiano V, Leiras R, Caldeira V, Bellardita C, Balueva K, Fuchs A, Kiehn O (2015). Descending Command Neurons in the Brainstem that Halt Locomotion. Cell, 163(5): 1191-1203.
Dougherty KJ, Zagoraiou Z, Satoh D, Rozani I, Doobar S, Arber S, Jessell TM, Kiehn O. (2013). Locomotor Rhythm Generation Linked to the Output of Spinal Shox2 Excitatory Interneurons. Neuron, 80(4): 920-933.
Talpalar AE, Bouvier J, Borgius L, Fortin G, Pierani A, Kiehn O (2013). Dual-mode operation of neuronal networks involved in left–right alternation. Nature, 500: 85–88.
Talpalar AE, Endo T, Löw P, Borgius L, Hägglund M, Dougherty KJ, Rygg J, Hnasko TS, Kiehn O (2011). Identification of minimal neuronal networks involved in flexor-extensor alternation in the mammalian spinal cord. Neuron, 71(6):1071-84.
Hägglund M, Borgius L, Dougherty KJ, Kiehn O. (2010). Activation of glutamatergic neurons in the mammalian brainstem or spinal cord evoke hind-limp locomotion. Nature Neuroscience, 13(2): 246-52.
Scherfigsvej 7
2100 Copenhagen Ø
Tel. +45 39 12 80 00
CVR-nr. 11 81 49 13
Nils Axelsen Ralf Hemmingsen Lauritz Holm-Nielsen Ralf Hemmingsen Jens Oddershede Jens Frederik Rehfeld Anders Bjørklund