Synapse biology

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At the synapse we strive to understand the function of proteins underlying transmission and plasticity

  • We use forefront proteomics technologies (Ka Wan Li) to quantify proteins and to measure their interactions in the synapse.
  • We establish novel modulatory interactions in protein networks. For instance, ligand-gated ion channels are studied to determine how receptor auxiliary proteins contribute to their function (Guus Smit). Understanding ‘nanomachines’ helps to comprehend synaptic function, plasticity and dysfunction in disease and enables to specifically target these.
  • We solve protein assemblies and parts of the architecture of the synaptic protein interactome (Ka Wan Li).
  • We are structuring synaptic organization by functionally annotating proteins and by building a synaptic ontology (Pim van Nierop, SynGO).
  • Neuron-glia interactions are studied to understand the hitherto underestimated role of glial cells in regulating synaptic function and plasticity of the brain (Mark Verheijen).
  • For functional dissection of synaptic proteins we use high-content automated microscopy (link cellomics) involving gene over-expression and knockdown approaches in cultured neurons.