Research: Synaptic architecture at the nano-scale
Neuronal synapses are highly efficient and complex cellular signaling machineries that achieve remarkable precision in signal transmission for a prolonged period of time, in some cases throughout the lifetime of an animal. The importance of synaptic efficiency is mirrored by many neural diseases but in particular by synaptopathies where synaptic organization and function is disrupted. In order to provide reliable signaling synaptic vesicles have to be retained close to the presynaptic active zone, the domain where vesicles are docked and fuse with the membrane after Ca influx in a nano-domain through voltage gated channels.
How are synaptic vesicles kept coherently close to the active zone to maintain efficient signaling? To shed light onto this question our team focuses on the cellular architecture using a combination of genetic tools and imaging techniques. In particular we apply electron tomography as ultra high 3D resolution method to dissect components and function of synaptic architecture. We use a synergistic combination of two highly tractable models where they are most appropriate: The C. elegans neuromuscular junctions for efficient candidate identification and manipulation and the neuromuscular junctions of the zebrafish larva as vertebrate model to test for evolutionary conservation of function.
Sebastian Britz (Master Student MSc Biology)
Frederik Helmprobst (PhD Student)
Sebastian Markert (PhD Student)
Christian Stigloher (Jun. Prof.)
Marlene Strobel (Master Student MSc Biology)