How do neural cells regulate their plastic properties? How is the composition and integrity of the perisynaptic extracellular matrix linked to homeostatic or synaptic plasticity?

We use primary neuronal cell cultures to study effects of chemical Long-Term Potentiation (cLTP) or neuromodulator pharmacology on matrix components.

(A) Neurons are polarized cells with highly specialized subcellular compartments characterized by specific molecular components.

(B) To study the protein composition of neurons, their synaptic contacts and the perisynaptic extracellular matrix we use biochemical brain fractionation techniques with multiple centrifugation steps to enrich specific cell compartments.

(C) On Western blots we can analyse activity-induced changes in protein patterns over time.

We want to understand how normal genetic variability in large cohorts of healthy human subjects affects cognitive functions, learning, memory or motivated behavior. After study participants performed computer-based tasks (A) DNA is extracted from their blood samples (B) and analysed for single nucleotide polymorphisms (C, D) in candidate genes encoding components of glutamatergic synapses or perisynaptic extracellular matrix.

Prof. Dr. Constanze Seidenbecher

Molecular and cellular mechanisms of synaptic plasticity

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