Neurons in the brain communicate with each other through proteins that are present on specialized structures called spines that extend out from the neuron cell membrane. During neuron activity, the number and shape of spines change. Understanding how these changes occur is important because the changes are associated with learning and memory. The PI will study one particular protein that is highly abundant in spines and known to be critical for learning. The goal of the project is to determine how this protein and the proteins that it interacts with control spine shape and number. Undergraduate and graduate students, including underrepresented minorities, will participate in the research. The PI will present seminars on this area of research to the Health Science-Multicultural and Community Affairs (HS-MACA) Postbaccalaureate Program that is offered at his institution.
Glutamate delta-1 receptors are orphan receptors that, unlike other members of the ionotropic glutamate receptor family, do not function as typical ligand-gated ion channels. Understanding their mechanism of action is important because the receptors are crucial for normal dendritic spine pruning, associative and reversal learning, and execution of complex behaviors. This project will investigate the potential interaction of glutamate delta-1 receptor with metabotropic glutamate receptors, which are also enriched at glutamatergic synapses. The working hypothesis for the proposed studies is that the glutamate delta-1 receptor regulates downstream metabotropic glutamate receptor signaling, including the mammalian target of rapamycin (mTOR) pathway, which regulates spine morphology. A multidisciplinary approach will be carried out that will make use of genetic and pharmacological tools, functional assays, diolistic labeling, and three dimensional reconstruction techniques. Outcomes are directed at developing a mechanistic understanding of glutamatergic synapse structure and function in the central nervous system.
|Effective start/end date||9/1/15 → 8/31/21|
- National Science Foundation: $726,146.00