Winther Laboratory

Research focus

We investigate the molecular mechanisms controlling formation, shape, intracellular architecture and establishment of functional properties of presynaptic terminals in both fast and peptidergic neurons, utilizing Drosophila as a main model system. We use molecular biology, genetic and a variety of imaging techniques to characterize the signal transduction pathway controlling the formation of the presynapse. Using these approaches we have identified several scaffolding molecules that coordinate effector proteins during synapse formation.

Key topics of ongoing research are:

  • To elucidate the signal transduction pathway controlling presynaptic architecture during post-embryonic synaptogenesis. We aim to delineate protein-protein interactions that control presynapse morphology.
  • To identify putative differences in the organization of protein networks controlling growth and structure of conventional and peptidergic neurons.
  • Characterize functional alterations in synaptic transmission following defects in presynapse morphology.

Signaling mechanisms controlling presynaptic architecture are of key importance for development, learning and memory, and regeneration following CNS injury. Perturbed synaptic architecture leads to failure in synaptic communication and underlies distortions in brain development and is a characteristic attribute of several neurological diseases.

Selected publications

The dynamin-binding domains of Dap160/intersectin affect bulk membrane retrieval in synapses.
Winther Ã, Jiao W, Vorontsova O, Rees K, Koh T, Sopova E, et al
J. Cell. Sci. 2013 Feb;126(Pt 4):1021-31

Chemical neuroanatomy of the Drosophila central complex: distribution of multiple neuropeptides in relation to neurotransmitters.
Kahsai L, Winther A
J. Comp. Neurol. 2011 Feb;519(2):290-315

Neuropeptides in the Drosophila central complex in modulation of locomotor behavior.
Kahsai L, Martin J, Winther A
J. Exp. Biol. 2010 Jul;213(Pt 13):2256-65

Presynaptic peptidergic modulation of olfactory receptor neurons in Drosophila.
Ignell R, Root C, Birse R, Wang J, Nässel D, Winther A
Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. U.S.A. 2009 Aug;106(31):13070-5

Tachykinin-related peptides modulate odor perception and locomotor activity in Drosophila.
Winther A, Acebes A, Ferrús A
Mol. Cell. Neurosci. 2006 Mar;31(3):399-406