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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.

One or more keywords matched the following items that are connected to Budnik, Vivian
Item TypeName
Academic Article The Drosophila tumor suppressor gene, dlg, is involved in structural plasticity at a glutamatergic synapse.
Academic Article Synapse maturation and structural plasticity at Drosophila neuromuscular junctions.
Academic Article SSB, an antigen that selectively labels morphologically distinct synaptic boutons at the Drosophila larval neuromuscular junction.
Academic Article Regulation of DLG localization at synapses by CaMKII-dependent phosphorylation.
Academic Article Regulation of synapse structure and function by the Drosophila tumor suppressor gene dlg.
Academic Article Synaptic targeting and localization of discs-large is a stepwise process controlled by different domains of the protein.
Academic Article Regulation of synaptic plasticity and synaptic vesicle dynamics by the PDZ protein Scribble.
Academic Article The gene mod(mdg4) affects synapse specificity and structure in Drosophila.
Academic Article Fasciclin II signals new synapse formation through amyloid precursor protein and the scaffolding protein dX11/Mint.
Academic Article 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.
Academic Article Wnts: up-and-coming at the synapse.
Academic Article DLGS97/SAP97 is developmentally upregulated and is required for complex adult behaviors and synapse morphology and function.
Academic Article Glia and muscle sculpt neuromuscular arbors by engulfing destabilized synaptic boutons and shed presynaptic debris.
Academic Article Trans-synaptic transmission of vesicular Wnt signals through Evi/Wntless.
Academic Article Wnt signaling during synaptic development and plasticity.
Academic Article Recruitment of scribble to the synaptic scaffolding complex requires GUK-holder, a novel DLG binding protein.
Academic Article Inhibitory control of synaptic and behavioral plasticity by octopaminergic signaling.
Academic Article Integration of a retrograde signal during synapse formation by glia-secreted TGF-? ligand.
Academic Article Wnts and TGF beta in synaptogenesis: old friends signalling at new places.
Academic Article FASt remodeling of synapses in Drosophila.
Academic Article Wingless signaling at synapses is through cleavage and nuclear import of receptor DFrizzled2.
Academic Article Nuclear trafficking of Drosophila Frizzled-2 during synapse development requires the PDZ protein dGRIP.
Academic Article Synaptic cytoskeleton at the neuromuscular junction.
Academic Article Plasticity and second messengers during synapse development.
Academic Article Crucial role of Drosophila neurexin in proper active zone apposition to postsynaptic densities, synaptic growth, and synaptic transmission.
Academic Article Rapid activity-dependent modifications in synaptic structure and function require bidirectional Wnt signaling.
Academic Article WNTs tune up the neuromuscular junction.
Academic Article Autoregulatory and paracrine control of synaptic and behavioral plasticity by octopaminergic signaling.
Academic Article From synapse to nucleus and back again--communication over distance within neurons.
Academic Article Regulation of postsynaptic retrograde signaling by presynaptic exosome release.
Academic Article Ultrastructure of neuromuscular junctions in Drosophila: comparison of wild type and mutants with increased excitability.
Concept Synapses
Academic Article Glial wingless/Wnt regulates glutamate receptor clustering and synaptic physiology at the Drosophila neuromuscular junction.
Academic Article Nucleus to Synapse Nesprin1 Railroad Tracks Direct Synapse Maturation through RNA Localization.
Academic Article A Tale of Two Inputs.
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