Molecular Cell Biology 3

Neurosciences in Drosophila and rodents; from genes to neuronal networks (5.03.03)

Principal Investigators

Prof. Dr. J.H. Meijer, Prof. Dr. J.N. Noordermeer, Dr T. De Boer, Dr. J. Rohling, Dr. S. Michel, Dr. L.G. Fradkin

Aim and focus

A major field of enquiry in neurobiology is the characterization of the neural circuits underlying our ability to think and move, the consequences of their dysfunction and the use of this knowledge to treat disease and traumatic injury.

The research goals of the first subprogram, “molecular mechanisms of synapse formation”, focus on the understanding of how axons are guided to their targets, how synapses are formed and how axons regenerate post-injury. We employ the powerful model system, Drosophila, as well as mouse in vitro cell culture and mouse and human biopsy neuromas (neural injury scar tissue) as our model systems and use a variety of techniques, among them, genetics, biochemistry and electrophysiology for these studies,. A better understanding of the conserved pathways that guide these processes will enable us to develop therapeutic targets for diseases of the nervous system and muscular dystrophies.

The aim of the second subprogram, “circadian rhythms and sleep”, is to understand the physiological bases of circadian rhythms and sleep, and the influence of the alteration of rhythm and sleep patterns upon the severity of diseases, such as depression, metabolic syndrome, and on aging. We employ electrophysiological approaches at the cellular and whole organismal levels in wild type and mutant mice which allow us to characterize both the individual and integrated cellular clocks.