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PBIO SEMINAR SERIES

Location: HSB G-328, 10:30am (unless otherwise noted)

May 01, 2014

"Single-molecule mapping of living synapses"

Thomas Blanpied, University of Maryland
Speaker's website

Host: Andres Barria

Precise modulation of the brainís excitatory synapses underlies diverse forms of neural plasticity. By disrupting these processes, many disease mechanisms wreak havoc on neural circuit performance. Thus, understanding how synapse structure enables fine tuning of synaptic function is a central goal of neuroscience, and the overall goal in our lab. At the core of postsynaptic organization is the postsynaptic density (PSD), in which multi-domain proteins coordinate activation of neurotransmitter receptors and intracellular signaling pathways. Numerous lines of evidence make clear that a key means by which the PSD modulates synaptic transmission is by controlling the number of postsynaptic receptors. However, even aside from the importance of receptor number, the distribution of receptors within the PSD may have a dramatic impact on synapse physiology, by governing the likelihood that released neurotransmitter will activate the receptors. Notably, we recently have found using single-molecule (PALM) mapping of the PSD that scaffold proteins and both AMPA and NMDA receptors are not distributed uniformly through the synapse, but in fact are enriched within subregions of single PSDs. The lab is currently addressing the mechanisms and implications of such an arrangement lying at the core of synapse architecture.