The synapse is a specialized structure between two neurons at which basal neuronal communication takes place. Although neurons have reached the state of terminal differentiation, synapses can form or are eliminated, and continually change properties depending on neural activity a feature called synaptic plasticity which requires new supply of synaptic proteins that reach the synapse via axonal trafficking.
Yet, despite considerable advances in our understanding of synaptic signal transmission processes, much remains to be delineated with respect to the molecular and cellular principles of synaptic delivery during neurotransmission and plasticity. The involvement of synapses in a spectrum of major brain diseases (synaptopathies) such as neurodegenerative diseases (dementia and Parkinson’s) and psychiatric disorders (major depressive disorder) is becoming increasingly apparent in recent years.
Therefore the key objective of this Research Team is to study which candidate genes regulate synaptic delivery and whether neurodegenerative disease-linked variations in such genes, isolated in Genetics of the Brain, influence synaptic transport.