Imaging dynamics of endogenous protein interactions in single dendritic spines

2018 Scientific Innovations Award
Ryohei Yasuda, Ph.D.
Max Planck Florida Institute for Neuroscience

Changes in the efficiency of synaptic communications between neurons underlie learning and memory. This process is called synaptic plasticity and is caused by biochemical reactions mediated by hundreds of species of molecules in each synapse. Many mental diseases are caused by failure of this process. However, the exact process of biochemical reaction in each synapse is not well understood, partly due to the lack of techniques for monitoring biochemical reactions in single synapses. Thus, in this project, Dr. Yasuda’s lab will establish a novel imaging technique to monitor precise biochemical reactions in single synapses by combining cutting-edge genome-editing techniques with advanced imaging technology. They expect that this will greatly improve the understanding of molecular processes underlying synaptic plasticity, learning, and memory, and will provide new insights into the mechanism of mental diseases.

Other Awards

Chaolin Zhang, Ph.D., Columbia University
Human-specific Alternative Splicing, Brain
Development, and Ciliopathies
Like movie frames needing to be edited to tell an engaging story, pieces of genetic information stored in DNA for each gene need to be sliced and rejoined, through a…
Jason Shepherd, Ph.D. University of Utah
Virus-like Intercellular Signaling Underlying Autoimmune Neurological Disorders
Dr. Shepherd’s lab discovered that a brain gene critical for memory and cognition, Arc, has biochemical properties like retroviruses such as HIV. Arc protein can form virus-like protein capsids that…
Yuki Oka, Ph.D., California Institute of Technology
Molecular Mechanisms of Osmolality Sensing in the Mammalian Brain
Animals constantly detect and process sensory signals to react appropriately. External sensory information (e.g., light and sound) serves as prominent environmental cues to guide behavior. On the other hand, our…
Angelique Bordey, Ph.D., Yale University
The Role of Ribosomes in Synaptic Circuit Formation and Socio-Communicative Deficits
Dr. Bordey and her lab’s proposal aims at identifying a molecular mechanism responsible for autism-like socio-communicative defects in the developmental disorder, tuberous sclerosis complex (TSC). TSC is a genetic disorder…