Our Current Goals
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. In addition, we are interested how these mechanisms act at mature synapses to provide for their structural and functional plasticity.
To achieve these goals, we pursue three aims. First, we biochemically identify the protein complexes of adhesion molecules and their intracellular partners that organize developing synapses. Second, we analyze the properties of these synapse-organizing complexes in cultured neurons, including structure/function studies. Third, we determine the roles of synapse-organizing molecules in the developing brain, using transgenic and knock-out mouse models. We utilize a comprehensive set of techniques to attain our objectives, including protein biochemistry, proteomics, live imaging of neuronal development and synapse formation in cultured cells, and studies of synaptic structure and function in mouse models.