Professor of Neuroscience at the Department of Neuroscience since 2000.
The nerve cells of the brain are connected to each other via chemical contacts called synapses. These work by releasing signal substances, neurotransmitters, that act on receptors on the adjacent cell. The mechanisms behind the release of neurotransmitters are the focus of Lennart Brodin's research. Neurotransmitters are stored in microscopic bubbles called synaptic vesicles, and they are released when the vesicles merge with the cell's surface membrane. This process is called exocytosis. The vesicles are then rebuilt by an uptake mechanism, endocytosis. The new vesicles are then refilled with neurotransmitters in a continuously repeated process.
The research team is studying a variety of proteins and protein interactions that govern the recycling of synaptic vesicles, with a special focus on the rebuilding mechanism. How can a vesicle that has been flattened out in the cell membrane be rebuilt so accurately in a matter of seconds? How do proteins end up in the right place when a vesicle may contain as many as 80 different proteins? How is the vesicle membrane pinched off from the cell membrane? The giant synapse of the lamprey is an experimentally accessible and important model for addressing these questions.