Role of Neuroligins in Synaptic Plasticity
Synapses are the site of functional connections between neurons, and neuroligins are critical for the establishment and maintenance of these critical connections underlying brain communication. This study will investigate the interaction of the neuroligin molecule with a receptor subtype in the brain associated with activating neuronal activity and target of medications used to treat autism – the NMDA receptor. The Chetkovich lab will utilize cellular and molecular biological approaches to investigate the mechanism by which neuroligins participate in the development, maintenance and function of neuronal connections. Significance: These studies will provide a better understanding the cellular processes underlying synapse development and function, in order to identify biochemical loci for therapeutic intervention in autism.