L. Rene Garcia

L. Rene Garcia

Joint Associate Professor

Department of Molecular and Cellular Medicine
Room 349A, Biological Sciences Building West
College Station, TX   77840

Phone: 979.845.2989
Fax: 979.845.2891

Education and Post-Graduate Training

Dr. L. Rene Garcia is an associate professor in the Department of Biology at Texas A&M University with a joint appointment in the Department of Molecular and Cellular Medicine at the Texas A&M College of Medicine. Garcia received his Bachelor of Science in microbiology from the University of Texas at Austin in 1990. He continued his graduate studies at UT-Austin investigating how bacterial viruses deliver their genetic material into their host. After he obtained his PhD in microbiology in 1996, he held a postdoctoral position in the lab of Paul W. Sternberg at the California Institute of Technology, where he studied mechanisms of behavior and development in the nematode Caenorhabditis elegans. In 2002, he joined the Department of Biology at Texas A&M University. In the fall of 2008, he was appointed as a Howard Hughes Investigator and became a joint faculty member in the Department of Molecular and Cellular Medicine.

Research Interests

My lab studies the interactions between aging, feeding and sex-specific mating behavior to understand how chemo/mechano-sensory and motor outputs change under various physiological conditions. We use the nematode Caenorhabditis elegans as a genetic and molecular model to de-construct motivated behaviors such as feeding and copulation into its fundamental sensory-motor components. We then employ a combination of transgenics, pharmacology, classical genetics, laser microsurgery and calcium imaging to understand how individual motor outputs produce gross behaviors when the aging animal is food deprived, and when it is food satiated. We focus on how food signals can up and down-modulate membrane excitability and calcium currents through molecules such as: G-protein-coupled dopamine receptors, nicotinic and muscarinic acetylcholine receptors, calcium calmodulin kinase II, ether-a-go-go K+ channels and insulin growth factor-like receptors. Our goal from these studies is to investigate the feasibility of controlling the abnormal firing of aged, diseased or defective neurons and muscles through direct manipulation of molecules involved in food-regulated signaling.

Selected Publications

Gruninger, T.R., Gualberto, D.G., and Garcia, L.R. (2008) Sensory Perception of Food and Insulin-like Signals Influence Seizure Susceptibility. PloS Genetics. 4(7):e1000117.

LeBoeuf, B.*, Gruninger, T.R.*, (*Co-first Authors) and Garcia, L.R. (2007) Food deprivation suppresses defective ERG K+ channel-induced muscle seizures through CaMKII and EAG K+ channels. PloS Genetics.3(9): e156.

Garcia, L.R., Leboeuf, B., and Koo, P. (2007) Diversity in mating behavior of hermaphroditic and male-female Caenorhabditis nematodes. Genetics (4):1761-1771.

Gruninger, T.R., LeBoeuf, B, Liu, Y., and *Garcia, L.R. (2007) Molecular Signaling Involved in Regulating Feeding and Other Motivated Behaviors. Molecular Neurobiology. 35: 1-20.

Liu, Y, LeBoeuf, B., and Garcia, L.R. (2007) Gαq-coupled Muscarinic Acetylcholine Receptors Enhance Nicotinic Acetylcholine Receptor Signaling in C. elegans Mating Behavior. J. Neurosci. 27: 1411-1421.

Reiner, D.J., Weinshenker, D., Tian, H., Thomas, J.H., Nishiwaki, K., Miwa, J., Gruninger, T., Leboeuf, B., and Garcia, L.R. (2006) Behavioral genetics of Caenorhabditis elegans unc-103-encoded erg-like K(+) channel. J Neurogenet. (1-2):41-66.

Gruninger, T.R., Gualberto, D.G., LeBoeuf, B., and Garcia, L.R. (2006) Integration of Male Mating and Feeding Behaviors in Caenorhabditis elegans. J. Neurosci. 26:169-179.

Barr, M., and Garcia, L.R. (2005) Male mating behavior. WormBook, ed. The C. elegans Research Community, WormBook, doi/10.1895/wormbook.1.7.1, http://www.wormbook.org

Moghal, N. *, Garcia, L.R. *, Khan, L.A., Iwasaki, K., Sternberg, P.W. (2003) Modulation of EGF receptor-mediated vulval development by Gaq and excitable cells in C. elegans. Development 130: 4553-4566. (* co-first authors)

Garcia, L. R., and Sternberg, P.W. (2003) Caenorhabditis elegans UNC-103 ERG-Like Potassium Channel Regulates Contractile Behaviors of Sex Muscles in Males Before and During Mating. J. Neurosci. 23: 2696-2705.