David Zenisek PhD
Associate Professor of Cellular and Molecular Physiology and of Ophthalmology and Visual Science
Physiology and cell biology of the presynaptic terminal; Retinal Bipolar Neuron; Synaptic Terminal; Synaptic Ribbons; Vesicle Transport; Exocytosis; Endocytosis
Neurons communicate with one another by the release of neurotransmitters through exocytosis. Although all eukaryotic cells secrete molecules, a hallmark of neurons is the speed and spatial regulation of the secretion process. The main objective of the research in my laboratory is to understand how presynaptic terminals are specialized for these tasks. This work involves the study of several aspects of presynaptic function including vesicle transport, exocytosis, and endocytosis.
The primary model system in the laboratory is the retinal bipolar neuron of the goldfish and zebrafish, which have unusually large synaptic terminals. These neurons belong to a class of neurons that have specialized synaptic structures known as synaptic ribbons. One specific focus of the laboratory is to understand the role of these structures in synaptic transmission in tonic sensory neurons. In order to study presynaptic function, my laboratory uses a combination of electrophysiological, molecular, and optical approaches.