Protein Trafficking in Synaptic Development and Function
Components of the synapse are delivered to, and removed from, synaptic sites by motor-dependent transport along microtubule tracks. In particular, axonal transport by molecular motors delivers proteins and membranes to presynaptic nerve terminals and is essential for synapse formation and maintenance. Interactions between motors and their respective cargoes are regulated at multiple stages during the transport process but details of these regulatory mechanisms remain incompletely understood. Noteworthy, impaired intracellular transport arising from mutations of proteins or perturbations of regulatory pathways involved in axonal transport has been linked to the onset and progression of neurodegenerative disorders.
The major focus of our research is the elucidation of mechanisms involved in the transport and incorporation of proteins into presynaptic sites and how these processes are coordinated. We are also interested in understanding the molecular organization of presynaptic macromolecular complexes via the identification and characterization of new presynaptic protein interactions.