The Background for Our Research

Neurons communicate with each other through synapses. These highly specialized intercellular junctions are formed in a coordinated manner between a pre- and a post-synaptic neuron. During development of the central nervous system (CNS), countless new synapses are established, and new synapses continue to form throughout life.

When new synapses are generated, the surfaces of the pre- and postsynaptic neuron are first aligned in close proximity. Following this axo-dendritic contact, specialized membrane domains are established at both the juxtaposed neuronal plasma membranes. In this process, the membrane area destined to become the presynaptic plasma membrane forms the active zone, holding the synaptic vesicles that are ready for exocytosis, and the matching neurotransmitter receptors are recruited and retained at the postsynaptic membrane.

Research

We aim to determine the molecular mechanisms of synapse formation in the developing CNS of vertebrates. Our goal is to identify and characterize the events that initiate synapse formation, and the steps that lead to its completion.

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