The main aim of the laboratory is to understand, at the molecular level, the transmission of signals across nerve cells, a process which underlies all brain functions. Proper understanding of the mechanisms of synaptic transmission requires detailed knowledge of the receptors, i.e., the proteins on which neurotransmitters act. The laboratory aims at obtaining this knowledge by combined biochemical and electrophysiological approaches. Much of the laboratory present work involves a novel technique that allows the expression in Xenopus oocytes of functional receptors, whose structure is encoded in brain mRNAs. The oocytes are induced to acquire the receptors that operate in the brain by injecting them with mRNA isolated from the brains of various animal species (including human). In this way, oocytes have been induced to acquire many receptors and other membrane proteins of nerve cells. Once expressed in large Xenopus oocytes (over 1 mm diameter) the receptors and the intracellular second messengers some of them activate, become more amenable to detailed studies. We have also incorporated Mass Spectrometry-based Proteomics to study Protein Expression in our research.
Molecular and Cellular Neurobiology
1109 McGaugh Hall
Neurobiology and Behavior Department