Molecular Organization at the Synapse


In the central nervous system, synapses form the basic functional units of connectivity between two neurons. The formation, remodeling and elimination of synapses refine the microcircuitry in the brain. The synapse is a complex molecular machine, which changes its structure and composition during neuronal development and plasticity. It contains hundreds of proteins choreographed into a micron sized machine overseeing the fidelity of brain function. The components of the synapses play a major role in synaptic transmission and synaptic plasticity, which are thought to underlie learning and memory. Interestingly most of the diseases has a direct impact on the number, position and movement of molecules in and out of synapse contributing towards synaptic loss or dysfunction thus affecting the normal behaviour of the brain. However, it has been an enigma how information is processed at a single synapse by controlling function, position and regulation of several molecules. This is partly because of the inaccessibility to garner information to resolve structures less than a few 100nm. The development of super-resolution imaging methods (Nobel Prize 2014) that break the diffraction limit allows monitoring the real-time (milliseconds) synaptic organization at the nanoscale (10-50nm). The work in our lab attempts to dissect the fundamental role of dynamic nanoscale organization of synaptic molecules to understand how synapse process and relay information. To achieve this we follow an interdisciplinary research paradigm at the interface of high end microscopy, molecular biology and cellular neuroscience. All this information is expected to contribute towards a better understanding of how synapses function at the molecular scale and provide fundamental insights into signal processing at single synapses in health and disease.

PI : Dr.Deepak Nair (Webpage)