Robert Wood Johnson Medical School
Department of Neuroscience and Cell Biology
Piscataway, NJ 08854
Regulation of dendritic spine morphogenesis and synaptic plasticity
Our lab is interested in the molecular mechanisms regulating dendritic spine morphogenesis and synaptic plasticity. Dendritic spines are small, actin-rich protrusions that receive most of the excitatory synaptic inputs in the brain. Spines are plastic in that they change in response to a variety of factors including synaptic activity and aging. This structural plasticity of spines is believed to be an important component of the cellular basis for learning and memory. In addition, abnormalities in the number, size and shape of spines have been linked to various neurological disorders including mental retardation, Alzheimer's disease and schizophrenia. Thus, understanding the mechanisms that regulate these processes is important for unraveling how information is processed and stored in the brain. We hope our research can shed light on the molecular mechanisms of spine morphogenesis and synaptic plasticity, and how they translate to memory formation and maintenance in vivo.