PI: Jyothi Arikkath, PhD
Project Title: Mechanisms of Neural Plasticity
Grant Agency: NIDCD
The ability to learn and retain memory relies heavily on the ability of synapses to translate synaptic activity to alterations in synaptic structure and function. Cell adhesion molecules are key players in regulating multiple aspects of synaptic structure, function and plasticity in the developing and the adult brain. Consequently, several cell adhesion proteins have been implicated in autism, mental retardation and other neuro-developmental disorders.
We propose to examine how the cadherin catenin cell adhesion complex cooperates with the voltage gated calcium channels presynaptically and the glutamate receptors postsynaptically to regulate synaptic structure, efficacy and plasticity both in developing and mature neurons. We propose to use a combination of high resolution fixed and live imaging, electrophysiology and advanced biochemical techniques to answer these questions. We expect that these studies will provide fundamental insights into the regulation of synaptic plasticity by cell adhesion molecules and contribute significantly to our understanding of the intricate nature of synaptic function in health and disease.