Biological Sciences, Lehigh University Lehigh University home page Department of Biological Sciences home page
Faculty, Biological Sciences, Lehigh University

Julie Miwa, Ph.D.
Associate Professor

Research Interest:

Iacocca Hall
111 Research Drive, D208
Bethlehem, PA 18015


email Dr. Miwa


My laboratory investigates complex neurobiological processes and how they are regulated through the cholinergic system. I focus on a class of modulators, lynx genes, which are important regulatory proteins over the cholinergic system. Lynx proteins act as molecular brakes, binding to nicotinic acetylcholine receptors of this system and modifying their function. We use a highly multidisciplinary approach through the generation of genetically engineered mouse lines and the characterization of such line by electrophysiological, behavioral, biochemical and microscopic techniques. These investigations have been highly informative, since the cholinergic system is widespread and involved in many important complex process, and because the system is suppressed under normal conditions. We have found that our genetic animals have enhanced learning, critical period plasticity, heightened anxiety responses, and many more interesting and important phenotypes all awaiting further detailed investigation. The ultimate goal is to understand the cellular basis of behavioral adaptation to allow the individual to better negotiate its complex environment.

The laboratory is seeking scientists with experience in molecular genetics, genetic engineering, in vivo RNA interference, and behavioral pharmacology. We also perform parallel in vitro and in vivo investigations to elucidate the function of these important regulatory molecules, so scientists with a background in tissue culture, stable cell line production, and functional assay development and/or biochemistry would also be a good fit for the lab.


Julie Miwa, Ph.D.

Selected Publications

Adobe PDF ReaderMiwa, JM, Ibanez-Tallon, I, Crabtree, GW, Sanchez, R, Sali, A, Role, LW and Heintz, N (1999) lynx1, an endogenous toxin-like modulator of nicotinic acetylcholine receptors in the mammalian CNS. Neuron 23, 105-114. PMCID:10402197. Cover and previewed manuscript

Adobe PDF ReaderIbanez-Tallon, I, Miwa, JM, Wang, HL, Adams, NC, Crabtree, GW, Sine, SM, and Heintz, N (2002) Novel modulation of neuronal nicotinic acetylcholine receptors by association with the endogenous prototoxin lynx1. Neuron 33, 893-903. PMID:11906696

Adobe PDF ReaderIbanez-Tallon, I, Wen, H, Miwa, JM, Xing, J, Tekinay, AB, Ono, F, Brehm, P, and Heintz, N (2004) Tethering Naturally Occurring Peptide Toxins for Cell-Autonomous Modulation of Ion Channel and Receptors in vivo. Neuron 41, 305-311. PMID:15294139.

Adobe PDF ReaderMiwa, JM, Stevens, TR, King, SL, Calderone, BJ, Ibanez-Tallon, I, Xiao, C, Maki Fitzsimonds, R, Pavlides, C, Lester, HA, Picciotto, MR and Heintz, N (2006) The Prototoxin lynx1 acts on Nicotinic Acetylcholine Receptors to Balance Neuronal Activity and Survival in vivo. Neuron 51, 587-600. PMID:16950157.

Adobe PDF ReaderTekinay, AB, Nong, Y, Miwa, JM, Lieberam, I, Ibanez-Tallon, I, Greengard, P, and Heintz, N. (2009) A role for LYNX2 in anxiety-related behavior. Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. 106, 4477-4482. PMID:19246390. 2 citations. Click here for supplemental.

Adobe PDF ReaderMorishita, H, Miwa, JM, Heintz, N, and Hensch, TK (2010) Lynx1, a cholinergic brake, limits plasticity in adult visual cortex. Science 330, 1238-40. PMID: 21071629 previewed manuscript

Adobe PDF ReaderMiwa, JM, Freedman, R, and Lester, HA (2011) Neuronal circuits modulated by nicotinic receptors. Neuron, 70, 20-33. Review article, Featured review,PMID: 21482353

Adobe PDF ReaderMiwa, JM, Lester, HA, and Walz, A (2012) Optimizing cholinergic tone through lynx modulators of nicotinic receptors: implications for plasticity and nicotine addiction. Commissioned review, Physiology (Bethesda) 27, 187-99. PMID:22875450

Adobe PDF ReaderMiwa, JM and Walz, A (2012) Enhancement in Motor Learning through Genetic Manipulation of the lynx1 Gene. PLoS ONE 7, e43302. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0043302.

Adobe PDF ReaderKobayashi, A, Parker, RL, Wright, AP, Brahem, H, Ku, P, Oliver, KM, Walz, A, Lester, HA, and Miwa, JM (2014) lynx1 Supports Neuronal Health in the Mouse Dorsal Striatum During Aging: an Ultrastructural Investigation. J. Mol. Neurosci. 53, 525-36 PMID:25027556, doi: 10.1007/s12031-014-0352


Full Bibliography

Adobe PDF ReaderNichols, WA, Henderson, BJ, Yu, CY, Parker, RL, Richards, CL, Lester, HA, and Miwa, JM (2014) Lynx1 shifts α4β2 nicotinic receptor subunit stoichiometry by affecting assembly in the endoplasmic reticulum. J. Biol. Chem. 289(45), 31423-32, PMID:25193667, pii: jbc.M114.573667

Adobe PDF ReaderLester, HA, Miwa, JM, and Srinivasan, R (2012) Psychiatric drugs bind to their classical targets within the early exocytotic pathway. Biol. Psychol., 72, 907-15. Review article PMID: 22771239

Adobe PDF ReaderDrenan, RM, Grady, SR, Whiteaker, P, McClure-Begley, T, McKinney, S+, Miwa, JM, Bupp, S+, Heintz, N, McIntosh, JM, Bencherif, M, Marks, MJ, and Lester, HA. (2008) In vivo activation of midbrain dopamine neurons via sensitized, high-affinity α6 nicotinic acetylcholine receptors. Neuron 60, 123-136. PMID:18940593.

Adobe PDF ReaderLester, HA, Xiao, C, Srinivasan, R, Son, CD, Miwa, JM, Pantoja, R, Banghart, MR, Dougherty, DA, Goate, AM, and Wang, JC. (2009) Nicotine is a Selective Pharmacological Chaperone of Acetylcholine Receptor Number and Stoichiometry. Implications for Drug Discovery. AAPS, 11, 167-177. PMID:19280351

Adobe PDF ReaderDrenan, RM, Grady, SR, Steele, AD, McKinney, S+, Patzlaff, NE, McIntosh, JM, Marks, MJ, Miwa, JM, and Lester, HA (2010) Cholinergic Modulation of Locomotion and Striatal Dopamine Release is Mediated by α6α4* Nicotinic Acetylcholine Receptors, J. Neurosci., 30, 9877-9889. PMID:20660270

Adobe PDF ReaderSrinivasan,R, Pantoja, R, Moss, FJ, Mackey, EDW+, Son, CD, Miwa, JM, and Lester, HA (2010) Nicotine-induced α4β2 nicotinic receptor upregulation: Stoichiometry, β-subunit trafficking motifs, subcellular compartments and endoplasmic reticulum exit sites. J. Gen. Phys. 137, 59-79. PMID: 21187334. Cover manuscript

Adobe PDF ReaderRichards, CI, Srinivasan, R, Xiao, C, Mackey, EDW+, Miwa, JM, and Lester, HA (2011) Trafficking of α4* nicotinic receptors revealed by superecliptic phluorin: effects of a β4 ALS-associated mutation and chronic exposure to nicotine. J. Biol. Chem. 286, 31241-9. PMID: 21768117

Adobe PDF ReaderSrinivasan, R, Richards, CI, Mackey, EDW+, Rhee, DS+, Desphande, P, Miwa, JM and Lester, HA (2012) Nicotine remodels the endoplasmic reticulum through the Atf dependent pathway. Mol. Pharmacol. 81, 759-69. PMID: 22379121

Adobe PDF ReaderXiao, C, Miwa, JM, Wang, Y, Deshpande, P, and Lester, HA (2015) Nicotinic receptor subtype-selective circuit patterns in the subthalamic nucleus. J. Neurosci., 35(9), 3734-3746, PMID:25740504 *Featured in “This Week in the Journal” at the Journal of Neuroscience, Theresa Esch.


Lab Members

Current Students

Undergraduate students


Mark Crenshaw, CSE major
Marissa Bruno
Jon Saliby
David Geyer
Akeive Burrows
Marley Sorbello
Zoe Khaitan
Griffin Jones
Nzinga Henricks
Ariel Pawlo
Gehar Bitar
Miguel Martinez
Zaria Beckley
Lukas Hof

Work Study:
Sarah Yeung
Christy Rousch
Nick Kania
Nicole Clarke




Research Staff

Jeremy Brozek, Ph.D.


Jeremy Brozek, Ph.D.
Post-doctoral Research Associate
email Dr. Brozek


Katie Hoffman, Ph.D.


Katie Hoffman, Ph.D.
Professor of Practice
email Dr. Hoffman



Rachel Bush
Interim Lab Technician 


Former Lab Members


Samantha Eichelberger, VMD


Doctor of Philosophy

Kristin Anderson, Ph.D. - currently a post-doc at Cornell University



Tiffany Cummings
Melynda Dalzon
Carly Garrison
Katherine M. Oliver
Yow-Tyng Tim Yeh
Cecilia Yu Wang


Kyra Feuer
Sana Ali
Christopher Hoke
Andrew Truman
Teja Pammi
Courtney Meyer
Kasarah Ackerman
Chelsea Serrano
Adam Van Handel
Jacquelin Botello
Joanna Warran (secondary adviser with Dr. Amber Rice)
Leah Gonzales (work study and BDSI 2014)
Edwin Chan (Mountaintop Project)
Vikram Muller (Summer student researcher from UC Berekely)



Coming soon!


Biological Sciences
111 Research Drive
Bethlehem, PA 18015
Phone: 610-758-3680
Fax: 610-758-4004