Laura Borodinsky Photo

Laura Borodinsky

2425 Stockton Blvd
Sacramento, CA 95817
(916) 453-2285
lnborodinsky (at)


  • 1993 Master in Chemistry – University of Buenos Aires
  • 1999 Ph.D. in Neurosciences – University of Buenos Aires

Research Interests

Developmental neuroscience, neural tube defects, spinal cord development, neuronal differentiation, spinal cord and muscle regeneration.

Borodinsky Lab Image
The spinal cord integrates sensorimotor information by detecting stimuli from the environment through sensory neurons (red) and then recruiting motor neurons (axons in green), which in turn innervate the axial musculature to instruct motor functions in the frog larvae. Image by Dr. Kira Spencer.

Current research projects in our lab share a common goal of understanding the cellular and molecular mechanisms by which electrical activity, environmental factors and in general, changes in extrinsic and intrinsic cues influence nervous system development and regeneration. Different forms of activity are present at early stages of development, substantially before synapse formation, suggesting that neuronal activity participates in early steps of neuronal differentiation.

The hypotheses that we are testing in each of these projects attempt to challenge the idea that development occurs exclusively by a hardwired genetic program. Instead, we argue that tissue development progresses through a dynamic interplay between genetic programs and variable intrinsic and extrinsic cues.

We investigate the mechanisms by which two environmental factors, folic acid and antiepileptic drugs influence the incidence of neural tube defects. Our lab works with Xenopus laevis as a model system using a combination of methodologies including confocal microscopy, immunostaining, molecular biology, pharmacology, calcium imaging and electrophysiology.

Other projects in the lab are focused on spinal cord and muscle development and regeneration and the interplay between electrical activity and morphogenetic protein signaling.


Spencer KA, Belgacem YH, Visina O, Shim S, Genus H, Borodinsky LN. Growth at Cold Temperature Increases the Number of Motor Neurons to Optimize Locomotor Function. Curr Biol. 2019 Jun 3;29(11):1787-1799.e5. doi: 10.1016/j.cub.2019.04.072. Epub 2019 May 23. PMID: 31130453; PMCID: PMC7501754. Download PDF


Sequerra EB, Goyal R, Castro PA, Levin JB, Borodinsky LN. NMDA Receptor Signaling Is Important for Neural Tube Formation and for Preventing Antiepileptic Drug-Induced Neural Tube Defects. J Neurosci. 2018 May 16;38(20):4762-4773. doi: 10.1523/JNEUROSCI.2634-17.2018. Epub 2018 Apr 30. Erratum in: J Neurosci. 2018 Nov 28;38(48):10399. PMID: 29712790; PMCID: PMC5956989. Download PDF

Balashova OA, Visina O, Borodinsky LN. Folate action in nervous system development and disease. Dev Neurobiol. 2018 Apr;78(4):391-402. doi: 10.1002/dneu.22579. Epub 2018 Feb 6. PMID: 29380544; PMCID: PMC5867258. Download PDF

Grössinger EM, Kang M, Bouchareychas L, Sarin R, Haudenschild DR, Borodinsky LN, Adamopoulos IE. Ca2+-Dependent Regulation of NFATc1 via KCa3.1 in Inflammatory Osteoclastogenesis. J Immunol. 2018 Jan 15;200(2):749-757. doi: 10.4049/jimmunol.1701170. Epub 2017 Dec 15. PMID: 29246953; PMCID: PMC5815326. Download PDF


Borodinsky LN. Xenopus laevis as a Model Organism for the Study of Spinal Cord Formation, Development, Function and Regeneration. Front Neural Circuits. 2017 Nov 23;11:90. doi: 10.3389/fncir.2017.00090. PMID: 29218002; PMCID: PMC5704749. Download PDF

Belgacem YH, Borodinsky LN. CREB at the Crossroads of Activity-Dependent Regulation of Nervous System Development and Function. Adv Exp Med Biol. 2017;1015:19-39. doi: 10.1007/978-3-319-62817-2_2. PMID: 29080019.

Balashova OA, Visina O, Borodinsky LN. Folate receptor 1 is necessary for neural plate cell apical constriction during Xenopus neural tube formation. Development. 2017 Apr 15;144(8):1518-1530. doi: 10.1242/dev.137315. Epub 2017 Mar 2. PMID: 28255006; PMCID: PMC5399658. Download PDF


Belgacem YH, Hamilton AM, Shim S, Spencer KA, Borodinsky LN. The Many Hats of Sonic Hedgehog Signaling in Nervous System Development and Disease. J Dev Biol. 2016 Dec 10;4(4):35. doi: 10.3390/jdb4040035. PMID: 29615598; PMCID: PMC5831807. Download PDF

Tu MK, Levin JB, Hamilton AM, Borodinsky LN. Calcium signaling in skeletal muscle development, maintenance and regeneration. Cell Calcium. 2016 Mar;59(2-3):91-7. doi: 10.1016/j.ceca.2016.02.005. Epub 2016 Feb 20. PMID: 26944205; PMCID: PMC4834241. Download PDF

Borodinsky LN, Belgacem YH. Crosstalk among electrical activity, trophic factors and morphogenetic proteins in the regulation of neurotransmitter phenotype specification. J Chem Neuroanat. 2016 Apr;73:3-8. doi: 10.1016/j.jchemneu.2015.12.001. Epub 2015 Dec 12. PMID: 26686293; PMCID: PMC4818670. Download PDF


Kamiguchi H, Borodinsky LN. Introduction: Second messengers in neural development. Dev Neurobiol. 2015 Apr;75(4):335-6. doi: 10.1002/dneu.22269. Epub 2015 Feb 18. PMID: 25649469. Download PDF

Belgacem, Yesser & Borodinsky, Laura. (2015). Inversion of Sonic hedgehog action on its canonical pathway by electrical activity. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. 112. 4140-4145. 10.1073/pnas.1419690112. Download PDF

Borodinsky LN, Belgacem YH, Swapna I, Visina O, Balashova OA, Sequerra EB, Tu MK, Levin JB, Spencer KA, Castro PA, Hamilton AM, Shim S. Spatiotemporal integration of developmental cues in neural development. Dev Neurobiol. 2015 Apr;75(4):349-59. doi: 10.1002/dneu.22254. Epub 2014 Dec 10. PMID: 25484201; PMCID: PMC4363288. Download PDF


Dixit N, Wu DJ, Belgacem YH, Borodinsky LN, Gershwin ME, Adamopoulos IE. Leukotriene B4 activates intracellular calcium and augments human osteoclastogenesis. Arthritis Res Ther. 2014 Dec 2;16(6):496. doi: 10.1186/s13075-014-0496-y. PMID: 25443625; PMCID: PMC4276054. Download PDF

Tu MK, Borodinsky LN. Spontaneous calcium transients manifest in the regenerating muscle and are necessary for skeletal muscle replenishment. Cell Calcium. 2014 Jul;56(1):34-41. doi: 10.1016/j.ceca.2014.04.004. Epub 2014 Apr 29. PMID: 24854233; PMCID: PMC4077046. Download PDF

Borodinsky LN, Belgacem YH, Swapna I, Sequerra EB. Dynamic regulation of neurotransmitter specification: relevance to nervous system homeostasis. Neuropharmacology. 2014 Mar;78:75-80. doi: 10.1016/j.neuropharm.2012.12.005. Epub 2012 Dec 25. PMID: 23270605; PMCID: PMC3628948. Download PDF


Spitzer NC, Borodinsky LN, Root CM. Imaging and manipulating calcium transients in developing Xenopus spinal neurons. Cold Spring Harb Protoc. 2013 Jul 1;2013(7):653-64. doi: 10.1101/pdb.prot066803. PMID: 23818661. Download PDF


Swapna I, Borodinsky LN. Interplay between electrical activity and bone morphogenetic protein signaling regulates spinal neuron differentiation. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2012 Oct 2;109(40):16336-41. doi: 10.1073/pnas.1202818109. Epub 2012 Sep 18. PMID: 22991474; PMCID: PMC3479614. Download PDF

Borodinsky LN, Belgacem YH, Swapna I. Electrical activity as a developmental regulator in the formation of spinal cord circuits. Curr Opin Neurobiol. 2012 Aug;22(4):624-30. doi: 10.1016/j.conb.2012.02.004. Epub 2012 Feb 25. PMID: 22370142; PMCID: PMC3368055. Download PDF


Belgacem YH, Borodinsky LN. Sonic hedgehog signaling is decoded by calcium spike activity in the developing spinal cord. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2011 Mar 15;108(11):4482-7. doi: 10.1073/pnas.1018217108. Epub 2011 Feb 28. Erratum in: Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2011 Sep 13;108(37):15534. PMID: 21368195; PMCID: PMC3060219. Download PDF

Spitzer NC, Borodinsky LN, Root CM. (2011) Imaging calcium transients in developing Xenopus spinal neurons. In Imaging in Developmental Biology: A Laboratory Manual. Sharpe J, Rachel Wong and Yuste R, Eds, Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory Press.


Borodinsky LN, Spitzer NC (2009) Mechanisms of Synapse Formation: Activity-Dependent Selection of Neurotransmitters and Receptors. In “Co-Existence and Co-Release of Classical Neurotransmitters. Ex uno plures”. Gutierrez, Rafael, Ed., Springer. Download PDF


Spitzer NC, Borodinsky LN (2008) Implications of activity-dependent neurotransmitter-receptor matching. Philos. Trans. R. Soc. Lond B Biol Sci, 363: 1393-1399. Download PDF


Borodinsky LN, Spitzer NC (2007) Activity-Dependent Neurotransmitter-Receptor Matching at the Neuromuscular Junction. PNAS, 104: 335-340. Download PDF


Borodinsky LN, Spitzer NC (2006) Second messenger pas de deux: The coordinated dance between calcium and cAMP. Sci. STKE, 2006: pe22. Download PDF


Yuste R and Konnerth A, Eds, Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory Press. Spitzer NC, Borodinsky LN, Root CM (2005) Homeostatic activity-dependent paradigm for neurotransmitter specification. Cell Calcium, 37: 417-423. Download PDF

Spitzer NC, Borodinsky LN, Root CM. (2005) Imaging calcium transients in developing Xenopus spinal neurons. In “Imaging in neuroscience and development: A laboratory manual”.


Spitzer NC, Root CM, Borodinsky LN (2004) Orchestrating neuronal differentiation: patterns of Ca2+ spikes specify transmitter choice. Trends Neurosci 27: 415-421. Download PDF

Borodinsky LN, Root CM, Cronin J, Sann SB, Gu X, Spitzer NC. (2004) Activity-dependent homeostatic specification of transmitter expression in embryonic neurons. Nature 429: 523-530. Download PDF


Borodinsky LN, O’Leary D, Neale JH, Vicini S, Coso OA, Fiszman ML (2003) GABA-induced neurite outgrowth of cerebellar granule cells is mediated by GABAA receptor activation, calcium influx and CaMKII and MEK1 pathways. J Neurochem 84: 1411-1420. Download PDF


Borodinsky LN, Coso OA, Fiszman ML (2002) Contribution of Ca2+-calmodulin-dependent protein kinase II and mitogen-activated protein kinase kinase on neural activity-induced neurite outgrowth and survival of cerebellar granule cells. J Neurochem 80: 1062-1070. Download PDF