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Peter Serrano

Ph.D., University of California, Berkeley


Department of Psychology
Hunter College, Room 619 - HN
695 Park Avenue
New York, NY 10065
Tel: (212) 772-5610
Fax:(212) 772-5620



Current Areas of Research

My research interest is to identify how various signaling pathways are affected by stress, fear, developmental insults, pharmacological challenges, neural stimulation and cognition.  There are three projects that reflect these long-standing interests.


Long-Term Potentiation, Long-Term Depression and Memory

Long-term potentiation (LTP) and long-term depression (LTD) are electrophysiological models used to investigate neural mechanisms of synaptic plasticity in the rodent brain.  Using an in vitro hippocampal slice preparation, we analyze the effects of various pharmacological and biochemical manipulations to isolate key neural functions important for maintaining LTP and LTD.  These electrophysiology experiments allow us to develop stronger and more promising hypothesis for the neural mechanisms involved in learning and memory.


Developmental Psychobiology and Developmental Learning Disorders

     The aim of this project is to investigate how highly regulated and influential developmentally regulated proteins affect synaptic plasticity and ultimately cognition. Using various environmental, electrophysiological and pharmacological challenges, we identify the critical time windows when the brain is most susceptible to damage or trauma.  These experiments provide a functional understanding of brain development that is important for advancing treatment of developmental brain disorders


Neural Mechanisms of Stress, Fear and Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)

     The central hypothesis of this project is that elevated levels of fear, anxiety and stress alter various proteins affecting cognitive function.  Given PKMz’s fundamental role in the retention of long-term memories my lab examines PKMz’s function in PTSD genesis using a rodent model based on predatory scent stress.  The objective is to ultimately develop better and more effective treatment regimens for PTSD.


Selected Publications

Serrano PA, Friedman EL, Kenney J, Taubenfeld SM, Zimmerman JM, Hanna J, Alberini C, Kelley AE, Maren S, Yin JCP, Sacktor TC, Fenton AA. (2008) PKMz maintains spatial, instrumental, and classically-conditioned long-term memory.  PLoS in press.

Yao Y, Kelly MT, Sakimura S, Serrano PA, Tian D, Bergold P, Frey J, Sacktor TC. (2008) PKMz maintains late-LTP by enhancing NSF/GluR2-mediated trafficking of postsynaptic AMPARs. Journal of Neuroscience 28, 7820-7.

Schrott LM, Franklin LT & Serrano PA. (2008) Acquisition of radial arm maze is impaired following prenatal opiate exposure potential role of brain derived neurotrophic factor. Brain Research, 1198, 132-140.

*Pastalkova E, *Serrano PA, Pinkhasova D, Wallace E, Fenton A & Sacktor TC  (2006) Spatial information storage by the maintenance mechanism of LTP.  Science , 313, 1141-1144. *authors contributed equally to this work.

Cracco J, Serrano PA, Moskowiz SI, Bergold PJ & Sacktor TC (2005)  Protein synthesis-dependent LTP in isolated dendrites of CA1 pyramidal cells.  Hippocampus, 15, 551-556.

Serrano PA, Yao Y & Sacktor TC (2005) Persistent phosphorylation by protein kinase Mz maintains late phase long-term potentiation.  Journal of Neuroscience 25, 1979-1984.

Hernandez IA,  Blace N,  Crary JF, Serrano PA, Leitges M, Libien J,  Weinstein G, Tcherepanov A,  & Sacktor TC  (2003)  PKMz synthesis from a brain mRNA encoding an independent PKCz catalytic domain:  implications for the molecular mechanism of memory.  Journal of Biological Chemistry, 278, 40305-40316.

Ling, DS, Benard LS, Serrano PA, Blace N, Kelly MT, Crary JF & Sacktor T C  (2002) Persistently active protein kinase M-z is both necessary and sufficient for maintaining long-term potentiation.  Nature Neuroscience  5, 295-6.