SYNAPTIC DEVELOPMENT AND FORMATION
Our long-term goal is to unlock the molecular mechanisms that regulate synapse formation and development. We use a combination of molecular tools, imaging, physiology, and biochemistry to determine how neurons generate synaptic connections. We have found a key role for a receptor tyrosine kinase, EphB2. EphB2 signals to regulate the decision of neurons to make a synaptic contact, then recruits NMDARs to synaptic sites and regulates spine morphogenesis.
The movie shows two neurons. The dendrite of one is labeled red and filled with a green marker that labels postsynaptic specializations. An axon is labeled in cyan. During the six-hour (time-lapse) movie, the grown cone of the axon moves along the dendrite. Behind the growth cone dendritic and axonal filopodia are seen contacting each other dynamically. Postsynaptic marker protein (PSD-95-GFP) is often seen at sites of contact.