Wei Lu, Ph.D.
Synapse and Neural Circuit Unit
Building 35, Room 3C1000
35 Convent Drive
Bethesda, MD 20892
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,
1. Synapse development in hippocampal neurons
2. Activity-dependent neural circuit formation in hippocampus
3. Novel molecules in regulating AMPA receptor trafficking and function
4. Functional significance of glutamatergic inputs onto hippocampal subregions
Lu W, Bushong EA, Shih TP, Ellisman MH, Nicoll RA. The cell-autonomous role of excitatory synaptic transmission in the regulation of neuronal structure and function. Neuron. 2013;78(3):433-9.
Lu W, Shi Y, Jackson AC, Bjorgan K, During MJ, Sprengel R, Seeburg PH, Nicoll RA. Subunit composition of synaptic AMPA receptors revealed by a single-cell genetic approach. Neuron. 2009;62(2):254-68.
Gu X, Mao X, Lussier MP, Hutchison MA, Zhou L, Hamra FK, Roche KW, Lu W. GSG1L suppresses AMPA receptor-mediated synaptic transmission and uniquely modulates AMPA receptor kinetics in hippocampal neurons. Nat Commun. 2016;7:10873.
Gu X, Zhou L, Lu W. An NMDA Receptor-Dependent Mechanism Underlies Inhibitory Synapse Development. Cell Rep. 2016;14(3):471-8.
Hutchison MA, Gu X, Adrover MF, Lee MR, Hnasko TS, Alvarez VA, Lu W. Genetic inhibition of neurotransmission reveals role of glutamatergic input to dopamine neurons in high-effort behavior. Mol Psychiatry. 2017.
Related Scientific Focus Areas
Molecular Biology and Biochemistry
This page was last updated on September 28th, 2017