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


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 behavior. In addition, his lab is investigating how neuronal plasticity mediates functional recovery in models of stroke. 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 BRI and ACCESS.


Miquelajauregui A, S Kribakaran, R Mostany, A Badaloni, G Consalez, and C Portera-Cailliau Layer 4 pyramidal neurons exhibit robust dendritic spine plasticity in vivo after input deprivation The Journal of Neuroscience, 2015; 35(18): 7287-94.

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.

Johnston David G, Denizet Marie, Mostany Ricardo, Portera-Cailliau Carlos Chronic In Vivo Imaging Shows No Evidence of Dendritic Plasticity or Functional Remapping in the Contralesional Cortex after Stroke Cerebral cortex, 2012; 74(2): .

Rousso David L, Pearson Caroline Alayne, Gaber Zachary B, Miquelajauregui Amaya, Li Shanru, Portera-Cailliau Carlos, Morrisey Edward E, Novitch Bennett G Foxp-mediated suppression of N-cadherin regulates neuroepithelial character and progenitor maintenance in the CNS Neuron, 2012; 74(2): 314-30.

*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; .

Mostany Ricardo, Chowdhury Tara G, Johnston David G, Portonovo Shiva A, Carmichael S Thomas, Portera-Cailliau Carlos Local hemodynamics dictate long-term dendritic plasticity in peri-infarct cortex The Journal of Neuroscience, 2010; 30(42): 14116-26.

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.

Mostany Ricardo, Portera-Cailliau Carlos A craniotomy surgery procedure for chronic brain imaging Journal of visualized experiments : JoVE, 2008; 4(12): 1128-44.

Portera-Cailliau Carlos, Weimer Robby M, De Paola Vincenzo, Caroni Pico, Svoboda Karel Diverse modes of axon elaboration in the developing neocortex PLoS Biology, 2005; 3(8): e272.

Bennett Novitch, Ph.D.

The primary goal of our laboratory’s research is to determine the molecular pathways that direct the differentiation of neural stem and progenitor cells (NPCs) and the assembly of neural circuits, particularly those that control motor functions such as locomotion and breathing. To achieve this goal, we focus on identifying the growth factor signals, transcriptional networks, and downstream effectors that control the formation of neurons and glial cells in the spinal cord and brain. Insights into these fundamental mechanisms are essential for determining the function of NPCs in both normal development and diseased states, and for developing new methods to manipulate NPCs to facilitate the repair of damaged neural tissues.

Carolyn Houser, Ph.D.

Research Interest

Neurochemical anatomy, neuronal plasticity and development of the CNS


Peng Zechun, Zhang Nianhui, Wei Weizheng, Huang Christine S, Cetina Yliana, Otis Thomas S, Houser Carolyn R A reorganized GABAergic circuit in a model of epilepsy: evidence from optogenetic labeling and stimulation of somatostatin interneurons The Journal of neuroscience : the official journal of the Society for Neuroscience, 2013; 33(36): 14392-405.

Mathews Paul J, Lee Ka Hung, Peng Zechun, Houser Carolyn R, Otis Thomas S Effects of climbing fiber driven inhibition on Purkinje neuron spiking The Journal of neuroscience : the official journal of the Society for Neuroscience, 2012; 32(50): 17988-97.

Houser Carolyn R, Zhang Nianhui, Peng Zechun, Huang Christine S, Cetina Yliana Neuroanatomical clues to altered neuronal activity in epilepsy: from ultrastructure to signaling pathways of dentate granule cells Epilepsia, 2012; 53 Suppl 1(50): 67-77.

Houser Carolyn R, Zhang Nianhui, Peng Zechun, Huang Christine S, Cetina Yliana Neuroanatomical clues to altered neuronal activity in epilepsy: from ultrastructure to signaling pathways of dentate granule cells Epilepsia, 2012; 53 Suppl 1(50): 67-77.

Soussi Rabia, Zhang Nianhui, Tahtakran Siroun, Houser Carolyn R, Esclapez Monique Heterogeneity of the supramammillary-hippocampal pathways: evidence for a unique GABAergic neurotransmitter phenotype and regional differences The European journal of neuroscience, 2010; 32(5): 771-85.

Li Yi, Peng Zechun, Xiao Bo, Houser Carolyn R Activation of ERK by spontaneous seizures in neural progenitors of the dentate gyrus in a mouse model of epilepsy Experimental neurology, 2010; 224(1): 133-45.

Wyeth Megan S, Zhang Nianhui, Mody Istvan, Houser Carolyn R Selective reduction of cholecystokinin-positive basket cell innervation in a model of temporal lobe epilepsy The Journal of neuroscience : the official journal of the Society for Neuroscience, 2010; 30(26): 8993-9006.

Heusner CL, Beutler LR, Houser CR, Palmiter RD. Deletion of GAD67 in dopamine receptor-1 expressing cells causes specific motor deficits, Genesis, 2008; 46(7): 357-67.

Houser CR, Huang CS, Peng Z. Dynamic seizure-related changes in extracellular signal-regulated kinase activation in a mouse model of temporal lobe epilepsy, Neuroscience, 2008; .

Glykys J, Peng Z, Chandra D, Homanics GE, Houser CR, Mody I. A new naturally occurring GABA(A) receptor subunit partnership with high sensitivity to ethanol, Nat Neurosci, 2007; 10(1): 40-8.

Zhang N, Wei W, Mody I, Houser CR. Altered localization of GABA(A) receptor subunits on dentate granule cell dendrites influences tonic and phasic inhibition in a mouse model of epilepsy, J Neurosci, 2007; 27(28): 7520-31.

Houser CR. Interneurons of the dentate gyrus: An overview of cell types, terminal fields and neurochemical identity, Prog Brain Res, 2007; 163: 217-811.

Liang J, Zhang N, Cagetti E, Houser CR, Olsen RW, Spigelman I. Chronic intermittent ethanol-induced switch of ethanol actions from extrasynaptic to synaptic hippocampal GABAA receptors, J Neurosci, 2006; 26(6): 1749-58.

Chandra D, Jia F, Liang J, Peng Z, Suryanarayanan A, Werner DF, Spigelman I, Houser CR, Olsen RW, Harrison NL, Homanics GE. GABAA receptor alpha 4 subunits mediate extrasynaptic inhibition in thalamus and dentate gyrus and the action of gaboxadol, Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A, 2006; 103(41): 15230-5.

Swartz BE, Houser CR, Tomiyasu U, Walsh GO, DeSalles A, Rich JR, Delgado-Escueta A. Hippocampal cell loss in posttraumatic human epilepsy, Epilepsia, 2006; 47(8): 1373-82.

Farrar C, Houser CR, Clarke S. Activation of the PI3K/Akt signal transduction pathway and increased levels of insulin receptor in protein repair-deficient mice, Aging Cell, 2005; 4(1): 1-12.

Farrar CE, Huang CS, Clarke SG, Houser CR. Increased cell proliferation and granule cell number in the dentate gyrus of protein repair-deficient mice, J Comp Neurol, 2005; 493(4): 527-37.

Peng Z, Houser CR. Temporal patterns of fos expression in the dentate gyrus after spontaneous seizures in a mouse model of temporal lobe epilepsy, J Neurosci, 2005; 25(31): 7210-20.

Peng Z, Huang CS, Stell BM, Mody I, Houser CR. Altered expression of the delta subunit of the GABAA receptor in a mouse model of temporal lobe epilepsy, J Neurosci, 2004; 24(39): 8629-39.

Houser CR, Esclapez M. Downregulation of the alpha5 subunit of the GABA(A) receptor in the pilocarpine model of temporal lobe epilepsy, Hippocampus, 2003; 13(5): 633-45.

Wei W, Zhang N, Peng Z, Houser CR, Mody I. Perisynaptic localization of delta subunit-containing GABA(A) receptors and their activation by GABA spillover in the mouse dentate gyrus, J Neurosci, 2003; 23(33): 10650-61.

Peng Z, Hauer B, Mihalek RM, Homanics GE, Sieghart W, Olsen RW, Houser CR. GABA(A) receptor changes in delta subunit-deficient mice: altered expression of alpha4 and gamma2 subunits in the forebrain, J Comp Neurol, 2002; 446(2): 179-97.

Houser CR, Esclapez M, Zhang N. GABA neurons of the hippocampal formation: Localization, vulnerability and plasticity, GABA in the Nervous System: The View at Fifty Years, 2000; 337-56.

Dupuy-Davies S, Houser CR. Evidence for changing positions of GABA neurons in the developing rat dentate gyrus Hippocampus, 1999; 9(2): 186-99.

Houser CR. Neuronal loss and synaptic reorganization in temporal lobe epilepsy, Adv Neurol, 1999; 79: 743-61.

Houser, CR, Dupuy, ST, Zhang N. Prominent expression of glutamate decarboxylase during early hippocampal development, Childhood Epilepsies and Brain Development, 1999; pp.13-24.

Zhang N, Houser CR. Ultrastructural localization of dynorphin in the dentate gyrus in human temporal lobe epilepsy: a study of reorganized mossy fiber synapses, J Comp Neurol, 1999; 405(4): 472-90.

Esclapez M, Houser CR. Up-regulation of GAD65 and GAD67 in remaining hippocampal GABA neurons in a model of temporal lobe epilepsy, J Comp Neurol, 1999; 412(3): 488-505.

Dupuy ST, Houser CR. Developmental changes in GABA neurons of the rat dentate gyrus: an in situ hybridization and birthdating study J Comp Neurol, 1997; 389(3): 402-18.

Houser CR, Esclapez, M. Vulnerability and plasticity of the GABA system in the pilocarpine model of spontaneous recurrent seizures Epilepsy Res, 1996; 26(1): 207-18.

Dupuy ST, Houser CR. Prominent expression of two forms of glutamate decarboxylase in the embryonic and early postnatal rat hippocampal formation J Neurosci, 1996; 16(21): 6919-32.

Esclapez, M, Chang D, Houser CR. Subpopulations of GABA neurons in the dentate gyrus express high levels of the alpha1 subunit of the GABA-A receptor, Hippocampus, 1996; 6: 225-238.

Esclapez M, Houser CR. Somatostatin neurons are a subpopulation of GABA neurons in the rat dentate gyrus: Evidence from co-localization of pre-prosomatostatin and glutamate decarboxylase mRNAs, Neuroscience, 1995; 64: 339-355.

Houser CR, Esclapez M. Localization of mRNAs encoding two forms of glutamic acid decarboxylase in the rat hippocampal formation Hippocampus, 1994; 4(5): 530-45.

Esclapez M, Tillakaratne NJ, Kaufman DL, Tobin AJ, Houser CR. Comparative localization of two forms of glutamic acid decarboxylase and their mRNAs in rat brain supports the concept of functional differences between the forms J Neurosci, 1994; 14(3 Pt 2): 1834-55.

Obenaus A, Esclapez M, Houser CR. Loss of glutamate decarboxylase mRNA-containing neurons in the rat dentate gyrus following pilocarpine-induced seizures J Neurosci, 1993; 13(10): 4470-85.

Esclapez M, Tillakaratne NJ, Tobin AJ, Houser CR. Comparative localization of mRNAs encoding two forms of glutamic acid decarboxylase with nonradioactive in situ hybridization methods J Comp Neurol, 1993; 331(3): 339-62.

Houser CR GABA neurons in seizure disorders: A review of immunocytochemical studies, Neurochem Res, 1991; 16: 295-308.

Kafman DL, Houser CR, Tocin AJ Two forms of the gamma-aminobutyric acid synthetic enzyme glutamate decarboxylase have distinct intraneuronal distributions and cofactor interactions, J Neurochem, 1991; 56: 720-723.

Houser, CR Granule cell dispersion in the dentate gyrus of humans with temporal lobe epilepsy, Brain Res, 1990; 535: 195-204.

Houser CR, Miyashiro JE, Swartz BE, Walsh GO, Rich JR, Delgado-Escueta AV. Altered patterns of dynorphin immunoreactivity suggest mossy fiber reorganization in human hippocampal epilepsy J Neurosci, 1990; 10(1): 267-82.