The function of our brain relies on synaptic transmission across billions of synapses in the brain. Regulation of synaptic transmission plays essential roles in many physiological and pathological processes, such as control of neuronal network outputs, neuronal development, learning and memory, and neurological diseases. The Synaptic Transmission Section aims at understanding how synaptic transmission, particularly vesicle exo- and endocytosis at nerve terminals, is mediated and regulated.
Synaptic transmission at nerve terminals is mainly composed of 1) calcium influx via voltage-gated calcium channels during depolarization, 2) calcium-triggered vesicle fusion and fusion pore opening, which releases transmitter and thus generates a postsynaptic current, 3) fusion pore dilation or closure, and 4) retrieval of fused vesicle membrane that recycles exocytosed vesicles. We study the molecular mechanisms underlying each of these key steps using an array of advanced techniques, including whole-cell current and capacitance recordings, cell-attached single channel current and capacitance recordings, epi-fluorescence imaging, confocal and TIRF imaging, super-resolution STED imaging, STORM imaging, ion conductance microscopy, and molecular biological techniques such as over expression, knockdown and knockout. We used three preparations, the giant calyx of Held nerve terminal, the cultured hippocampal synapse and the chromaffin cell.
The lab is often seeking talented and motivated postdoctoral candidates with experience in cell biology (e.g., live-cell fluorescence imaging), molecular biology (e.g., mouse genetics), electrophysiology, or imaging (single vesicle or single molecule imaging). The lab is also often seeking graduate students majored in Neurobiology, Cell Biology, Pharmacology, Genetics, and Biomedical Engineering, with an interest in exo- and endocytosis. Contact Dr. Wu for further information.