Neuronal plasticity is the ability of neurons to adapt permanent changes in response to environmental stimuli. This unique property of the nervous system underlies learning and memory formation.
At the level of single neuron plasticity is expressed by the activity of individual synapses, and this in turn depends on the type of proteins locally synthesized at the synapse in response to stimulation. Some proteins present in dendrites and synapses are synthesized from mRNAs transported from the cell body in response to synaptic stimulation. Synaptic translation guarantees spatial and temporal control of protein synthesis and fast regulatory effect of the synthesized proteins on spine morphology and receptor signaling. This process proved to be extremely important for the physiology of neurons and its dysfunction leads to abnormalities observed in the disease syndromes such as fragile X syndrome and autism, and are associated with abnormal spine morphology and connectivity.
The Laboratory of Molecular Basis of Synaptic Plasticity focus on the identification of mRNAs and proteins undergoing local translation at the synapse in response to a specific type of stimulation and understanding of their synaptic functions. Our studies will contribute to identification of the key proteins important for synaptic plasticity. In our studies we use mouse models of human diseases, such as fragile X syndrome in which the process of local translation is impaired (FMR1 KO mice), neuronal cell imaging techniques as well as biochemical and molecular methods, next-generation sequencing and high resolution mass spectroscopy.