Home > Research groups > Synaptic trafficking (Darchen)


Synapses connect neurons and represent an important site of information processing in the brain. In response to changes in neuronal activity, synaptic use, and various molecular cues, synapses strengthen or weaken over time. This functional plasticity, which is accompanied by structural and molecular modifications of the synapse, is one of the foundations of adaptive behavior, learning and memory. The team is interested in understanding the cellular and molecular processes underlying synaptic plasticity and how these processes are impacted in neuropsychiatric diseases such as Alzheimer’s disease (AD) or autism spectrum disorders in which synaptic alterations are prominent.

Our group has been studying intracellular membrane trafficking for several years. Our expertise includes the analysis of vesicle mobility, exocytosis, and membrane fusion. We are now also interested in the trafficking and regulation of proteins, mRNAs and membrane-bound organelles to and from synapses and in the synthesis of synaptic proteins. Ongoing projects involve the effect of the amyloid peptide on mRNA translation and the effect of developmental genes on dendritic spine plasticity. To boost this project, we combine state-of-the-art optical imaging approaches with optogenetic sensors and actuators of synaptic protein synthesis.

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