Timothy Ryan

Niroshana Anandasabapathy


Molecular and Biophysical Principles of Synaptic Function

The focus of this lab is the study of the molecular basis of synaptic transmission in the mammalian brain. Our primary interests lie in understanding the regulation of vesicle traffic in presynaptic terminals, and how this traffic impacts presynaptic function. Synaptic terminals are specialized cellular structures that carry out carefully orchestrated vesicle trafficking through the interplay of molecular machines. Modulation of synaptic function almost certainly relies on changing the efficiency of one of many of these trafficking steps. Similarly, synaptic dysfunction could easily arise from loss of proper regulation of these steps. We use biophysical tools to characterize the molecular machinery as it functions in living synapses, ultimately always asking the question of how synapses work. We use many types of optical assays in combination with molecular, genetic and chemical tools to determine the molecular basis of various steps of the vesicle cycle as well as the roles of specific proteins that are enriched in the presynaptic terminal. In recent years we have been addressing how endocytosis is regulated at nerve terminals as well as how vesicles are clustered and mobilized for secretion upon action potential firing. The lab continuously develops new assays and approaches to address these questions.Through these studies, we hope to gain insight into how information is controlled at the synaptic level in both normal and diseased states of brain function

Current Areas of Focus

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