University of Southern California

USC Neuroscience

Michael W. Jakowec

Associate Professor of Research
Department of Neurology
Department of Cell and Neurobiology
Department of Biokinesiology and Physical Therapy
The George and MaryLou Boone Center for Parkinson's Disease Research

Research Topics

1. Animal models of Parkinson's disease.
2. Molecular mechanisms of exercise-induced neuroplasticity in the basal ganglia.
3. Interactions between dopamine and glutamate within the basal ganglia and their role in contol of motor behavior.
4. Development of new therapeutic modalities for Parkinson's disease.

Research Overview

The primary focus of research in Dr. Jakowec's laboratory is to better understand the molecular mechanisms involved in neuroplasticity in the injured brain with the emphasis on the basal ganglia, a region of the brain responsible for motor behavior. Currently, his laboratory is exploring the interactions between the neurotransmitter systems involving dopamine, glutamate and serotonine and finding ways to manipulate them to enhance motor behavior. To achieve this goal, animal models of basal gagnglia injury using the neurotoxicant MPTP are being used to investigate intrinsic neuroplasticity as well as using both pharmacological and behavioral modification including intensive treadmill exercise to alter the course of response to injury. Techniques and approaches used in the lab to examine alterations in genes and proteins of interest include immunocytochemistry, in situ hybridization histochemistry, western immunoblotting, light microscopy, gene array, protein profiling, neurochemistry, electrophysiology (with John Walsh), PET imaging (with Giselle Petzinger), blood flow studies (with Daniel Holschneider), immune analysis (with Brett Lund), and behavior (with Ruth Wood). A major goal of these studies is to translate their findings to develop new therapeutic treatments for Parkinson's disease and to possibly alter disease progression and demonstrated in our recent publication (Fisher et al, 2008)

Contact Information

Mailing Address:
Department of Neurology
1333 San Pablo Street
MCA 243, 9153 HSC
Los Angeles, CA 90033
Office Location:
MCA 243B
Office Phone:
(323) 442-1057
Lab Location:
MCA 243/244
Lab Phone:
(323) 442-3069
(323) 442-1055


  • Columbia University, New York, 1994-1995
  • Yale University, New Haven, Postdoc., 1990-1994
  • University of Southern California, Ph.D., 1990
  • University of California, Davis, M.Sc., 1984
  • University of Toronto, B.Sc., 1982

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Selected Publications

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Vuckovic, M., Wood, R. I., Holschneider, D.P., Abernathy, A., Togasaki, D. M., Smith, A., Petzinger, G. M., Jakowec, M. W. (2008) Memory, mood, dopamine, and serotonin in the 1-methyl-4-pheyl-1,2,3,6-tetrahydropyridine-lesioned mouse model of basal ganglia injury. Neurobiology of Disease, In Press.

Fisher, B.E., A. Wu, G. Salem, J. Song, J. Lin, M. Jakowec, J. Yip, J. Gordon, and G. Petzinger. (2008) The effects of exercise training in improving motor performance and cortico-motor excitability in individuals with early Parkinson's disease. Archives of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation 89:1221-9 -PubMed

Petzinger, G.M., Walsh, J.P., Akopian, G., Hogg, E., Abernathy, A., Arevalo, P., Turnquist, P., Vuckovic, M., Fisher, B.E., Togasaki, D.M., Jakowec, M.W. (2007) Effects of treadmill exercise on dopaminergic transmission in the 1-methyl-4-phenyl-1,2,3,6-tetrahydropyridine-lesioned mouse model of basal ganglia injury. J Neurosci. 27:5291-300. -PubMed

Lund, B.T., Chakryan, Y., Ashikian, N., Mnatsakanyan, L., Bevan, C.J., Aguilera, R.,Gallaher, T., Jakowec, M.W. (2006) Association of MBP peptides with Hsp70 in normal appearing human white matter. J Neurol Sci. 249:122-34. -PubMed

Petzinger, G.M., Fisher, B., Hogg, E., Abernathy, A., Arevalo, P., Nixon, K., Jakowec, M.W. (2006) Behavioral motor recovery in the 1-methyl-4-phenyl-1,2,3,6-tetrahydropyridine-lesioned squirrel monkey (Saimiris ciureus): changes in striatal dopamine and expression of tyrosine hydroxylase and dopamine transporter proteins. J Neurosci Res. 83:332-47. -PubMed

Hughes-Davis, E.J., Cogen, J.P., Jakowec, M.W., Cheng, H.W., Grenningloh, G., Meshul, C.K.,McNeill, T.H. (2005) Differential regulation of the growth-associated proteins GAP-43 and superiorcervical ganglion 10 in response to lesions of the cortex and substantia nigrain the adult rat. Neuroscience. 135:1231-9. -PubMed

Jakowec, M.W., Petzinger, G.M. (2004) 1-methyl-4-phenyl-1,2,3,6-tetrahydropyridine-lesioned model of parkinson's disease, with emphasis on mice and nonhuman primates. Comp Med. 54:497-513. Review. -PubMed

Fisher, B.E., Petzinger, G.M., Nixon, K., Hogg, E., Bremmer, S., Meshul, C.K., Jakowec, M.W. (2004) Exercise-induced behavioral recovery and neuroplasticity in the 1-methyl-4-phenyl-1,2,3,6-tetrahydropyridine-lesioned mouse basal ganglia. J Neurosci Res. 77:378-90. -PubMed

Jakowec, M.W., Nixon, K., Hogg, E., McNeill, T., Petzinger, G.M. (2004) Tyrosine hydroxylase and dopamine transporter expression following 1-methyl-4-phenyl-1,2,3,6-tetrahydropyridine-induced neurodegeneration of the mouse nigrostriatal pathway. J Neurosci Res. 76:539-50. -PubMed

Liker, M.A., Petzinger, G.M., Nixon, K., McNeill, T., Jakowec, M.W. (2003) Human neural stem cell transplantation in the MPTP-lesioned mouse. Brain Res. 971:168-77. -PubMed

Jakowec, M.W., Donaldson, D.M., Barba, J., Petzinger, G.M. (2001) Postnatal expression of alpha-synuclein protein in the rodent substantia nigra and striatum. Dev Neurosci. 23:91-9. -PubMed