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Vivian Budnik PhD

TitleProfessor and Chair Emeritus
Endowed TitleWorcester Foundation for Biomedical Research Chair I
InstitutionUMass Chan Medical School
AddressUMass Chan Medical School
364 Plantation Street LRB
Worcester MA 01605
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    Other Positions
    InstitutionT.H. Chan School of Medicine

    InstitutionT.H. Chan School of Medicine
    DepartmentRNA Therapeutics Institute

    InstitutionMorningside Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences
    DepartmentInterdisciplinary Graduate Program

    InstitutionMorningside Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences

    Collapse Biography 
    Collapse education and training
    University of Chile, Santiago, RM, ChileBSBiology
    Brandeis University, Waltham, MA, United StatesPHDBiophysics

    Collapse Overview 
    Collapse overview

    Molecular Mechanisms of Synapse Assembly and Plasticity

    The major goal of the research in our lab is to understand the mechanisms by which synapses are formed and modified. In the nervous system, the elemental means of communication between cells is synaptic transmission. Essential to the high speed and efficiency by which neurons communicate is the exquisite molecular organization of the pre- and postsynaptic apparatus. At the presynaptic compartment, neurotransmitter-laden vesicles are poised at active zones, ready for immediate release, and the calcium channels necessary for triggering exocytosis are spatially linked to the secretory machinery. At the postsynaptic membrane, neurotransmitter receptors form high-density clusters which are directly apposed to the active zones. Thus, proper development and functioning of synaptic junctions requires positional information, which coordinates the correct placement of pre- and postsynaptic elements. Once synapses are formed, it is the ability of synaptic connections to strengthen or to weaken which is believed to be central to the processes of learning and memory, and the restoration of synaptic connectivity after a traumatic injury.

    In the lab we are using a multidisciplinary approach that includes genetics, confocal and electron microscopy, electrophysiology and molecular biology to identify the proteins required to scaffold the synapse and to regulate it's molding during plasticity. Much of our studies are carried out using a Drosophila glutamatergic synapse model that has a high degree of evolutionary conservation with excitatory synapses in the mammalian brain. Using these approaches are unraveling fundamental mechanisms for synapse formation and synapse dynamics, including the role of scaffolding proteins in shaping and regulating the growth of synapses, synaptic formation “signaling molecules”, such as WNTs, which are well-recognized factors for early embryonic pattern formation but with novel roles in synapse development and plasticity, the role of exosomes in trans-synaptic communication, and the trafficking of RNAs which are prime substrates for forming postsynaptic building blocks. Our genetic studies have led to important discoveries in the field that are accelerating our knowledge of synapse development and plasticity and which are significantly contributing to our understanding of neurological disorders, such as dystonia, muscular dystrophies, and accelerated aging.

    Collapse Post Docs

    A postdoctoral position is available to study in this laboratory. Contact Dr. Budnik for additional details.

    Collapse Bibliographic 
    Collapse selected publications
    Publications listed below are automatically derived from MEDLINE/PubMed and other sources, which might result in incorrect or missing publications. Faculty can login to make corrections and additions.
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    PMC Citations indicate the number of times the publication was cited by articles in PubMed Central, and the Altmetric score represents citations in news articles and social media. (Note that publications are often cited in additional ways that are not shown here.) Fields are based on how the National Library of Medicine (NLM) classifies the publication's journal and might not represent the specific topic of the publication. Translation tags are based on the publication type and the MeSH terms NLM assigns to the publication. Some publications (especially newer ones and publications not in PubMed) might not yet be assigned Field or Translation tags.) Click a Field or Translation tag to filter the publications.
    1. Budnik V, Thomson T. Structure of an Arc-ane virus-like capsid. Nat Neurosci. 2020 02; 23(2):153-154. PMID: 31953526.
      Citations: 3     Fields:    Translation:AnimalsCells
    2. Ashley J, Cordy B, Lucia D, Fradkin LG, Budnik V, Thomson T. Retrovirus-like Gag Protein Arc1 Binds RNA and Traffics across Synaptic Boutons. Cell. 2018 01 11; 172(1-2):262-274.e11. PMID: 29328915.
      Citations: 189     Fields:    Translation:AnimalsCells
    3. Parchure A, Munson M, Budnik V. Getting mRNA-Containing Ribonucleoprotein Granules Out of a Nuclear Back Door. Neuron. 2017 Nov 01; 96(3):604-615. PMID: 29096075.
      Citations: 8     Fields:    Translation:HumansAnimalsCells
    4. Ashley J, Budnik V. A Tale of Two Inputs. Neuron. 2017 Mar 22; 93(6):1245-1247. PMID: 28334601.
      Citations: 3     Fields:    Translation:AnimalsCells
    5. Li Y, Hassinger L, Thomson T, Ding B, Ashley J, Hassinger W, Budnik V. Lamin Mutations Accelerate Aging via Defective Export of Mitochondrial mRNAs through Nuclear Envelope Budding. Curr Biol. 2016 08 08; 26(15):2052-2059. PMID: 27451905.
      Citations: 18     Fields:    Translation:AnimalsCells
    6. Fradkin LG, Budnik V. This bud's for you: mechanisms of cellular nucleocytoplasmic trafficking via nuclear envelope budding. Curr Opin Cell Biol. 2016 08; 41:125-31. PMID: 27236823.
      Citations: 16     Fields:    Translation:HumansAnimalsCells
    7. Budnik V, Ruiz-Ca?ada C, Wendler F. Extracellular vesicles round off communication in the nervous system. Nat Rev Neurosci. 2016 Mar; 17(3):160-72. PMID: 26891626.
      Citations: 332     Fields:    Translation:HumansAnimalsCells
    8. Packard M, Jokhi V, Ding B, Ruiz-Ca?ada C, Ashley J, Budnik V. Nucleus to Synapse Nesprin1 Railroad Tracks Direct Synapse Maturation through RNA Localization. Neuron. 2015 May 20; 86(4):1015-1028. PMID: 25959729.
      Citations: 18     Fields:    Translation:AnimalsCells
    9. Kerr KS, Fuentes-Medel Y, Brewer C, Barria R, Ashley J, Abruzzi KC, Sheehan A, Tasdemir-Yilmaz OE, Freeman MR, Budnik V. Glial wingless/Wnt regulates glutamate receptor clustering and synaptic physiology at the Drosophila neuromuscular junction. J Neurosci. 2014 Feb 19; 34(8):2910-20. PMID: 24553932.
      Citations: 42     Fields:    Translation:AnimalsCells
    10. Jokhi V, Ashley J, Nunnari J, Noma A, Ito N, Wakabayashi-Ito N, Moore MJ, Budnik V. Torsin mediates primary envelopment of large ribonucleoprotein granules at the nuclear envelope. Cell Rep. 2013 Apr 25; 3(4):988-95. PMID: 23583177.
      Citations: 84     Fields:    Translation:HumansAnimalsCells
    11. Korkut C, Li Y, Koles K, Brewer C, Ashley J, Yoshihara M, Budnik V. Regulation of postsynaptic retrograde signaling by presynaptic exosome release. Neuron. 2013 Mar 20; 77(6):1039-46. PMID: 23522040.
      Citations: 132     Fields:    Translation:AnimalsCells
    12. Kalra H, Simpson RJ, Ji H, Aikawa E, Altevogt P, Askenase P, Bond VC, Borr?s FE, Breakefield X, Budnik V, Buzas E, Camussi G, Clayton A, Cocucci E, Falcon-Perez JM, Gabrielsson S, Gho YS, Gupta D, Harsha HC, Hendrix A, Hill AF, Inal JM, Jenster G, Kr?mer-Albers EM, Lim SK, Llorente A, L?tvall J, Marcilla A, Mincheva-Nilsson L, Nazarenko I, Nieuwland R, Nolte-'t Hoen EN, Pandey A, Patel T, Piper MG, Pluchino S, Prasad TS, Rajendran L, Raposo G, Record M, Reid GE, S?nchez-Madrid F, Schiffelers RM, Siljander P, Stensballe A, Stoorvogel W, Taylor D, Thery C, Valadi H, van Balkom BW, V?zquez J, Vidal M, Wauben MH, Y??ez-M? M, Zoeller M, Mathivanan S. Vesiclepedia: a compendium for extracellular vesicles with continuous community annotation. PLoS Biol. 2012; 10(12):e1001450. PMID: 23271954.
      Citations: 611     Fields:    Translation:Cells
    13. Fuentes-Medel Y, Ashley J, Barria R, Maloney R, Freeman M, Budnik V. Integration of a retrograde signal during synapse formation by glia-secreted TGF-? ligand. Curr Biol. 2012 Oct 09; 22(19):1831-8. PMID: 22959350.
      Citations: 70     Fields:    Translation:AnimalsCells
    14. Koles K, Budnik V. Exosomes go with the Wnt. Cell Logist. 2012 Jul 01; 2(3):169-173. PMID: 23739155.
    15. Koles K, Budnik V. Wnt signaling in neuromuscular junction development. Cold Spring Harb Perspect Biol. 2012 Jun; 4(6). PMID: 22510459.
      Citations: 60     Fields:    Translation:HumansAnimalsCells
    16. Speese SD, Ashley J, Jokhi V, Nunnari J, Barria R, Li Y, Ataman B, Koon A, Chang YT, Li Q, Moore MJ, Budnik V. Nuclear envelope budding enables large ribonucleoprotein particle export during synaptic Wnt signaling. Cell. 2012 May 11; 149(4):832-46. PMID: 22579286.
      Citations: 196     Fields:    Translation:HumansAnimalsCells
    17. Koon AC, Budnik V. Inhibitory control of synaptic and behavioral plasticity by octopaminergic signaling. J Neurosci. 2012 May 02; 32(18):6312-22. PMID: 22553037.
      Citations: 27     Fields:    Translation:AnimalsCells
    18. Koles K, Nunnari J, Korkut C, Barria R, Brewer C, Li Y, Leszyk J, Zhang B, Budnik V. Mechanism of evenness interrupted (Evi)-exosome release at synaptic boutons. J Biol Chem. 2012 May 11; 287(20):16820-34. PMID: 22437826.
      Citations: 146     Fields:    Translation:AnimalsCells
    19. Fainzilber M, Budnik V, Segal RA, Kreutz MR. From synapse to nucleus and back again--communication over distance within neurons. J Neurosci. 2011 Nov 09; 31(45):16045-8. PMID: 22072654.
      Citations: 17     Fields:    Translation:AnimalsCells
    20. Budnik V, Salinas PC. Wnt signaling during synaptic development and plasticity. Curr Opin Neurobiol. 2011 Feb; 21(1):151-9. PMID: 21239163.
      Citations: 138     Fields:    Translation:HumansAnimalsCells
    21. Koon AC, Ashley J, Barria R, DasGupta S, Brain R, Waddell S, Alkema MJ, Budnik V. Autoregulatory and paracrine control of synaptic and behavioral plasticity by octopaminergic signaling. Nat Neurosci. 2011 Feb; 14(2):190-9. PMID: 21186359.
      Citations: 72     Fields:    Translation:AnimalsCells
    22. Ramachandran P, Budnik V. Preparation of early Drosophila embryonic fillets (before cuticle deposition). Cold Spring Harb Protoc. 2010 Oct 01; 2010(10):pdb.prot5497. PMID: 20889694.
      Citations:    Fields:    Translation:AnimalsCells
    23. Ramachandran P, Budnik V. Preparation of late Drosophila embryonic fillets. Cold Spring Harb Protoc. 2010 Oct 01; 2010(10):pdb.prot5498. PMID: 20889695.
      Citations: 1     Fields:    Translation:AnimalsCells
    24. Dialynas G, Speese S, Budnik V, Geyer PK, Wallrath LL. The role of Drosophila Lamin C in muscle function and gene expression. Development. 2010 Sep; 137(18):3067-77. PMID: 20702563.
      Citations: 67     Fields:    Translation:AnimalsCells
    25. Ramachandran P, Budnik V. Activity paradigm to induce Drosophila larval neuromuscular junction growth. Cold Spring Harb Protoc. 2010 Aug 01; 2010(8):pdb.prot5473. PMID: 20679382.
      Citations:    Fields:    Translation:AnimalsCells
    26. Ramachandran P, Budnik V. Dissection of Drosophila larval body-wall muscles. Cold Spring Harb Protoc. 2010 Aug 01; 2010(8):pdb.prot5469. PMID: 20679378.
      Citations: 10     Fields:    Translation:Animals
    27. Ramachandran P, Budnik V. Electron microscopy of Drosophila larval neuromuscular junctions. Cold Spring Harb Protoc. 2010 Aug 01; 2010(8):pdb.prot5474. PMID: 20679383.
      Citations: 9     Fields:    Translation:AnimalsCells
    28. Ramachandran P, Budnik V. Internalization and trafficking assay for Drosophila larvae. Cold Spring Harb Protoc. 2010 Aug 01; 2010(8):pdb.prot5472. PMID: 20679381.
      Citations:    Fields:    Translation:Animals
    29. Ramachandran P, Budnik V. Fm1-43 labeling of Drosophila larval neuromuscular junctions. Cold Spring Harb Protoc. 2010 Aug 01; 2010(8):pdb.prot5471. PMID: 20679380.
      Citations: 2     Fields:    Translation:AnimalsCells
    30. Ramachandran P, Budnik V. Immunocytochemical staining of Drosophila larval body-wall muscles. Cold Spring Harb Protoc. 2010 Aug 01; 2010(8):pdb.prot5470. PMID: 20679379.
      Citations: 6     Fields:    Translation:Animals
    31. Fuentes-Medel Y, Budnik V. M?nage ? Trio during BMP-Mediated Retrograde Signaling at the NMJ. Neuron. 2010 May 27; 66(4):473-5. PMID: 20510851.
      Citations: 9     Fields:    
    32. Schulze SR, Curio-Penny B, Speese S, Dialynas G, Cryderman DE, McDonough CW, Nalbant D, Petersen M, Budnik V, Geyer PK, Wallrath LL. A comparative study of Drosophila and human A-type lamins. PLoS One. 2009 Oct 26; 4(10):e7564. PMID: 19855837.
      Citations: 31     Fields:    Translation:HumansAnimalsCells
    33. Korkut C, Ataman B, Ramachandran P, Ashley J, Barria R, Gherbesi N, Budnik V. Trans-synaptic transmission of vesicular Wnt signals through Evi/Wntless. Cell. 2009 Oct 16; 139(2):393-404. PMID: 19837038.
      Citations: 245     Fields:    Translation:AnimalsCells
    34. Korkut C, Budnik V. WNTs tune up the neuromuscular junction. Nat Rev Neurosci. 2009 Sep; 10(9):627-34. PMID: 19693027.
      Citations: 40     Fields:    Translation:HumansAnimalsCells
    35. Fuentes-Medel Y, Logan MA, Ashley J, Ataman B, Budnik V, Freeman MR. Glia and muscle sculpt neuromuscular arbors by engulfing destabilized synaptic boutons and shed presynaptic debris. PLoS Biol. 2009 Aug; 7(8):e1000184. PMID: 19707574.
      Citations: 83     Fields:    Translation:AnimalsCells
    36. Ramachandran P, Barria R, Ashley J, Budnik V. A critical step for postsynaptic F-actin organization: regulation of Baz/Par-3 localization by aPKC and PTEN. Dev Neurobiol. 2009 Aug; 69(9):583-602. PMID: 19472188.
      Citations: 22     Fields:    Translation:AnimalsCells
    37. Ataman B, Ashley J, Gorczyca M, Ramachandran P, Fouquet W, Sigrist SJ, Budnik V. Rapid activity-dependent modifications in synaptic structure and function require bidirectional Wnt signaling. Neuron. 2008 Mar 13; 57(5):705-18. PMID: 18341991.
      Citations: 158     Fields:    Translation:AnimalsCells
    38. Mendoza-Topaz C, Urra F, Barr?a R, Albornoz V, Ugalde D, Thomas U, Gundelfinger ED, Delgado R, Kukuljan M, Sanxaridis PD, Tsunoda S, Ceriani MF, Budnik V, Sierralta J. DLGS97/SAP97 is developmentally upregulated and is required for complex adult behaviors and synapse morphology and function. J Neurosci. 2008 Jan 02; 28(1):304-14. PMID: 18171947.
      Citations: 26     Fields:    Translation:AnimalsCells
    39. Chai A, Withers J, Koh YH, Parry K, Bao H, Zhang B, Budnik V, Pennetta G. hVAPB, the causative gene of a heterogeneous group of motor neuron diseases in humans, is functionally interchangeable with its Drosophila homologue DVAP-33A at the neuromuscular junction. Hum Mol Genet. 2008 Jan 15; 17(2):266-80. PMID: 17947296.
      Citations: 49     Fields:    Translation:HumansAnimalsCells
    40. Li J, Ashley J, Budnik V, Bhat MA. Crucial role of Drosophila neurexin in proper active zone apposition to postsynaptic densities, synaptic growth, and synaptic transmission. Neuron. 2007 Sep 06; 55(5):741-55. PMID: 17785181.
      Citations: 96     Fields:    Translation:AnimalsCells
    41. Speese SD, Budnik V. Wnts: up-and-coming at the synapse. Trends Neurosci. 2007 Jun; 30(6):268-75. PMID: 17467065.
      Citations: 78     Fields:    Translation:HumansAnimalsCells
    42. Gorczyca D, Ashley J, Speese S, Gherbesi N, Thomas U, Gundelfinger E, Gramates LS, Budnik V. Postsynaptic membrane addition depends on the Discs-Large-interacting t-SNARE Gtaxin. J Neurosci. 2007 Jan 31; 27(5):1033-44. PMID: 17267557.
      Citations: 30     Fields:    Translation:AnimalsCells
    43. Ataman B, Ashley J, Gorczyca D, Gorczyca M, Mathew D, Wichmann C, Sigrist SJ, Budnik V. Nuclear trafficking of Drosophila Frizzled-2 during synapse development requires the PDZ protein dGRIP. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2006 May 16; 103(20):7841-6. PMID: 16682643.
      Citations: 74     Fields:    Translation:AnimalsCells
    44. Ruiz-Ca?ada C, Budnik V. Synaptic cytoskeleton at the neuromuscular junction. Int Rev Neurobiol. 2006; 75:217-36. PMID: 17137930.
      Citations: 18     Fields:    Translation:AnimalsCells
    45. Ruiz-Ca?ada C, Budnik V. Introduction on the use of the Drosophila embryonic/larval neuromuscular junction as a model system to study synapse development and function, and a brief summary of pathfinding and target recognition. Int Rev Neurobiol. 2006; 75:1-31. PMID: 17137921.
      Citations: 45     Fields:    Translation:AnimalsCells
    46. Budnik V, Gorczyca M, Prokop A. Selected methods for the anatomical study of Drosophila embryonic and larval neuromuscular junctions. Int Rev Neurobiol. 2006; 75:323-65. PMID: 17137935.
      Citations: 45     Fields:    Translation:AnimalsCells
    47. Griffith LC, Budnik V. Plasticity and second messengers during synapse development. Int Rev Neurobiol. 2006; 75:237-65. PMID: 17137931.
      Citations: 17     Fields:    Translation:AnimalsCells
    48. Ataman B, Budnik V, Thomas U. Scaffolding proteins at the Drosophila neuromuscular junction. Int Rev Neurobiol. 2006; 75:181-216. PMID: 17137929.
      Citations: 14     Fields:    Translation:AnimalsCells
    49. Mathew D, Ataman B, Chen J, Zhang Y, Cumberledge S, Budnik V. Wingless signaling at synapses is through cleavage and nuclear import of receptor DFrizzled2. Science. 2005 Nov 25; 310(5752):1344-7. PMID: 16311339.
      Citations: 100     Fields:    Translation:AnimalsCells
    50. Ashley J, Packard M, Ataman B, Budnik V. Fasciclin II signals new synapse formation through amyloid precursor protein and the scaffolding protein dX11/Mint. J Neurosci. 2005 Jun 22; 25(25):5943-55. PMID: 15976083.
      Citations: 80     Fields:    Translation:AnimalsCells
    51. Ruiz-Canada C, Ashley J, Moeckel-Cole S, Drier E, Yin J, Budnik V. New synaptic bouton formation is disrupted by misregulation of microtubule stability in aPKC mutants. Neuron. 2004 May 27; 42(4):567-80. PMID: 15157419.
      Citations: 77     Fields:    Translation:AnimalsCells
    52. Mathew D, Popescu A, Budnik V. Drosophila amphiphysin functions during synaptic Fasciclin II membrane cycling. J Neurosci. 2003 Nov 19; 23(33):10710-6. PMID: 14627656.
      Citations: 19     Fields:    Translation:AnimalsCells
    53. Packard M, Mathew D, Budnik V. FASt remodeling of synapses in Drosophila. Curr Opin Neurobiol. 2003 Oct; 13(5):527-34. PMID: 14630214.
      Citations: 24     Fields:    Translation:HumansAnimalsCells
    54. Packard M, Mathew D, Budnik V. Wnts and TGF beta in synaptogenesis: old friends signalling at new places. Nat Rev Neurosci. 2003 Feb; 4(2):113-20. PMID: 12563282.
      Citations: 47     Fields:    Translation:AnimalsCells
    55. Packard M, Koo ES, Gorczyca M, Sharpe J, Cumberledge S, Budnik V. The Drosophila Wnt, wingless, provides an essential signal for pre- and postsynaptic differentiation. Cell. 2002 Nov 01; 111(3):319-30. PMID: 12419243.
      Citations: 210     Fields:    Translation:AnimalsCells
    56. Roche JP, Packard MC, Moeckel-Cole S, Budnik V. Regulation of synaptic plasticity and synaptic vesicle dynamics by the PDZ protein Scribble. J Neurosci. 2002 Aug 01; 22(15):6471-9. PMID: 12151526.
      Citations: 34     Fields:    Translation:AnimalsCells
    57. Park D, Coleman MJ, Hodge JJ, Budnik V, Griffith LC. Regulation of neuronal excitability in Drosophila by constitutively active CaMKII. J Neurobiol. 2002 Jul; 52(1):24-42. PMID: 12115891.
      Citations: 26     Fields:    Translation:AnimalsCells
    58. Mathew D, Gramates LS, Packard M, Thomas U, Bilder D, Perrimon N, Gorczyca M, Budnik V. Recruitment of scribble to the synaptic scaffolding complex requires GUK-holder, a novel DLG binding protein. Curr Biol. 2002 Apr 02; 12(7):531-9. PMID: 11937021.
      Citations: 54     Fields:    Translation:AnimalsCells
    59. Koh YH, Ruiz-Canada C, Gorczyca M, Budnik V. The Ras1-mitogen-activated protein kinase signal transduction pathway regulates synaptic plasticity through fasciclin II-mediated cell adhesion. J Neurosci. 2002 Apr 01; 22(7):2496-504. PMID: 11923414.
      Citations: 49     Fields:    Translation:AnimalsCells
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