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Molecular Mechanisms of Regulation of Glutamatergic Transmission

Danny Winder
Molecular Physiology and Biophysics
724B Robinson Research Bldg (MRBI)
615-322-1144 (office)

Glutamatergic synaptic transmission is the primary means of fast excitatory neural communication in the brain and modulation of this transmission serves an important role in brain function. For example, long-term potentiation (LTP), a persistent modification of synaptic transmission elicited by brief high frequency stimulation of the synapse, has been postulated to play roles in memory storage. LTP is an appealing candidate for a cellular substrate for memory storage in part because, like memory, it is a lasting change to a transient stimulus. Another brain function that potentially involves a similar lasting change in response to a transient stimulus is the transition from the recreational drug use to addiction. Studies have suggested that just as the hippocampus is a key structure for some forms of memory storage, the nucelus accumbens plays an important role in the establishment of addiction. In addition, glutamatergic synapses in both of these structures can undergo LTP. Thus, research in my lab is directed toward determining how glutamatergic transmission can be modulated in these structures, and the signal transduction cascades utilized. To accompoish this, we employ a variety of electrophysiological and biochemical techniques in brain slices. Through the use of regulatable systems to overexpress transgenes that interfere with LTP in mouse nucleus accumbens, studies are also planned to address the roles of modulation of glutamatergic transmission in processes such as memory storage and drug addiction.

For more information, please visit the lab website.