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.