Fast synaptic transmission in the vertebrate central nervous system is mediated largely via the release of amino acid transmitters. This synaptic transmission is also subject to modulatory influences by myriad receptor subtypes including the amino acid receptors themselves. Such receptors are found on both pre- and post-synaptic elements of the synaptic junction and mediate changes in synaptic efficacy lasting from several milliseconds to several days. In most vertebrates, experimentalist access to the presynaptic terminal to the is limited because of its small size. The lamprey, however, does not possess myelin and as a consequence its axons are large in diameter and may be readily recorded with patch- or micropipettes. Additionally, the tissue of the lamprey central nervous system is optically clear and thin. Being thin it may be kept alive, in vitro but intact, for several days.
My research utilizes these features of this vertebrate preparation to investigate the mechanisms by which synaptic transmission is modulated on both pre- and postsynaptic elements of central nervous system synapses. We are particularly interested in the means by which presynaptic G proteins and presynaptic calcium concentrations modulate the release of neurotransmitter from the presynaptic terminal. Techniques of patch clamp, intracellular recording, and imaging microfluorimetry are utilized to investigate the cellular mechanisms of signal transmission in both the long and short term.
Office: 578 CMET, MC 512