The function of our brains is based on information transmission, processing and storage by neuronal networks, which are composed of billions neuronal cells, neurons. These neurons communicate with each other at specialized contact sites named synapses. Here the incoming electric signal induces a release of neurotransmitter from the upstream cell, which can be detected and converted in an electrical signal in the downstream cell. The synaptic signal transmission is highly elaborate and precisely regulated process and any disturbance of it leads to brain malfunctions such as epilepsy and neuropsychiatric or neurodegenerative diseases. The usage-dependent modification in the synaptic transmission – referred to as synaptic plasticity – resembles one crucial cellular mechanism for learning and memory formation.
Presynaptic Plasticity lab investigates the molecular mechanisms of presynaptic function and dysfunction. In the presynaptic bouton, complex molecular machinery works in a precisely orchestrated manner to ensure fast and precise neurotransmitter release. The molecular identity of most components of the presynaptic release machinery was established in past decade. However, we still do not completely understand, how the dynamic molecular interactions implement presynaptic performance and which mechanisms are engaged in modulation of this complex ensemble in order to execute functional plasticity of neurotransmitter release. This knowledge is indispensable to link functional characterization of presynaptic specializations with their molecular and structural mapping, which is in turn instrumental for rational design of pharmacological and genetic interventions applicable in brain diseases involving brake-down of synaptic function.