Titre : Chemical Tools to study Synaptic Plasticity
Endroit: Pavillon Roger-Gaudry, Salle G-715
Hôte : Prof. Shawn Collins
In the brain, synaptic connections are the foundation of a healthy neuronal network. Uncontrolled loss of these connections can lead to neurological diseases exemplified by Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s. While the phenotypes are well documented, the molecular processes that decide whether a synapse will get strengthened or destroyed are still not understood. Protein-protein interactions involved in intercellular communication are key to control the fate of a synapse, but it is a dynamic phenomenon that must be studied in living cells. Genetic methods are limited to study live neurons, but chemical approaches offer a number of alternative solutions. Our lab develops chemical tools to study native proteins in living cells, with a stong focus on neuro-glia interactions.
This talk will highlight how small molecules can be modified to monitor, tag, or control protein function in cells. More specifically, our studies on proteins involved in critical neurobiological processes will be presented. They include membrane proteins such as: glutamate receptors, voltage-gated calcium channels, and integrins. We have created a number of molecular probes that are photoactive, either as reporter probes, or as activity-triggers. Together, these small molecules help us gain unprecedented insight in the function of native proteins in cells like neurons. This research program is supported by grants from the New Frontiers in Research Fund, UBC’s Eminence Fund, CFI-JELF, and NSERC DG.