Synapses, the specialized cellular junctions, are essential for rapid communication between neurons. These synaptic junctions physically and functionally connect individual neurons into continuous neural circuits that give rise to behavior and cognition. One prominent feature of the synapse is that it is highly plastic, which underlies many brain functions, including learning and memory. How are synaptic connections between neurons formed, how is synaptic strength regulated, what is the role of neuronal activity in the regulation of synapse formation and synaptic plasticity and how does the regulation of synaptic strength influence animal behavior?
We mainly rely on rodent hippocampus as our model system to study these questions. Currently we employ molecular, biochemical and genomic approaches to identify novel players in synaptic function, use molecular, genetic, optical and pharmacological approaches to manipulate synapses, and utilize electrophysiological, genetic and behavioral approaches to examine synaptic and neural circuit function (for details, please see https://sites.google.com/site/lulaboratorynih/home). Ongoing projects in the lab include,
- Gu X, Zhou L, Lu W. An NMDA Receptor-Dependent Mechanism Underlies Inhibitory Synapse Development. Cell Rep. 2016;14(3):471-478.
- Li J, Han W, Pelkey KA, Duan J, Mao X, Wang YX, Craig MT, Dong L, Petralia RS, McBain CJ, Lu W. Molecular Dissection of Neuroligin 2 and Slitrk3 Reveals an Essential Framework for GABAergic Synapse Development. Neuron. 2017;96(4):808-826.e8.
- Han W, Li J, Pelkey KA, Pandey S, Chen X, Wang YX, Wu K, Ge L, Li T, Castellano D, Liu C, Wu LG, Petralia RS, Lynch JW, McBain CJ, Lu W. Shisa7 is a GABAA receptor auxiliary subunit controlling benzodiazepine actions. Science. 2019;366(6462):246-250.
- Wu K, Han W, Tian Q, Li Y, Lu W. Activity- and sleep-dependent regulation of tonic inhibition by Shisa7. Cell Rep. 2021;34(12):108899.
- Wu K, Castellano D, Tian Q, Lu W. Distinct regulation of tonic GABAergic inhibition by NMDA receptor subtypes. Cell Rep. 2021;37(6):109960.
Related Scientific Focus Areas
Molecular Biology and Biochemistry
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