Learning and memory involves changes in the molecular machinery of synapses. AMPA receptors (AMPARs) mediate the majority of fast excitatory synaptic transmission in the brain, and plasticity at excitatory synapses involves alterations in the number of AMPARs localised at the synaptic plasma membrane, brought about by regulated receptor trafficking.
AMPAR expression at the synaptic plasma membrane is regulated by endocytosis, exocytosis, recycling and lateral diffusion events that contribute to reductions (Long Term Depression, LTD) or increases (Long Term Potentiation, LTP) in synaptic strength. A number of protein interactions with AMPAR subunits have been identified that mediate these trafficking events
The main focus of my lab is investigating how these protein interactions are regulated, and how they influence basic cell biological processes to bring about changes in AMPAR trafficking and hence synaptic strength.