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Professor Jeremy Henley

Neurotransmitter receptor trafficking in plasticity and disease

Understanding the processes that dictate the distribution, maintenance and dynamics of neurotransmitter receptors is of fundamental importance to the molecular basis of fast excitatory transmission, synaptic plasticity and brain function.

The Henley lab is interested in the mechanisms by which neurotransmitter receptors are targeted to, retained at and removed from synapses under normal, stimulated and disease conditions. Receptors share common biosynthetic and endocytic pathways but important specific differences allow selective regulation.

Increased understanding of the mechanisms of these processes will give important insights into synapse formation, stabilisation and plasticity and thus into the cellular mechanisms underlying learning and memory and some neurodegenerative diseases.

In particular we focus on the roles of posttranslational modifications, such as SUMOylation, and protein-protein interactions at AMPA and kainate receptors.

To address these questions we use a wide range of molecular, biochemical, cell biology and imaging techniques including the use of viral transduction and fluorophore protein tagging technology to visualise the dynamics of receptor movement in living neurones in real time.

Research keywords

  • Glutamate receptor
  • GABA
  • NSF
  • GluR2
  • Syntenin
  • GFP
  • AMPA receptor
  • PICK1
  • SUMOylation
  • SUMO

Diseases related to this field of research

  • Brain ischaemia
  • epilepsy
  • drug addiction

Processes and functions relevant to this work

  • Learning and memory
  • development
  • synaptic transmission

Research findings

  • Molecular and functional characterisation of AMPA and kainate receptors
  • AMPA and kainate receptor trafficking, functional surface expression and recycling at synapses
  • Neuronal receptor trafficking in plasticity and disease
  • Neuronal receptor interacting proteins
  • Posttranslational modification in synapses
  • Role of SUMOylation in pre- and postsynaptic function
  • SUMOylation in neuronal disease


  • Dr Laszlo Urban - Novartis - London
  • Dr Andrea Grant - Glaxo-Wellcome
  • Chris McBain - NIH and J-C. Lucaille - Montreal
  • Prof. Ole Peter Ottersen - Oslo
  • Drs Chrstophe Mulle and Daniel Choquet - Bordeaux
  • Members of MRC Centre - Bristol
  • Prof Jeremy Tavare Dept. of Biochemistry - Bristol