In response to hormonal or synaptic stimulation, excitable cells (including smooth muscle, cardiac muscle, and neurons) undergo a diversity of changes in their electrical properties. My lab is studying the trafficking and localization of glutamate receptors and calcium channels to synapses, and their modulation by protein kinases.
A major focus of our research is regulation of glutamate receptors that play key roles in neuronal communication. Failure to regulate these receptors can cause seizure disorders and neurodegeneration such as, Alzheimer's, Huntington's and Parkinson's disease. We have identified proteins that control the movement and localization of these receptors at synapses with the aim of designing drugs that prevent neuronal death in disease states. We also study the mechanisms by which growth factors, such as IGF 1, promote neuronal development. Our work demonstrates that growth factors enhance the activity of L-type calcium channels to regulate dendritic branching, spine formation, and long-term survival.
JOHN MARSHALL, Ph.D., Cambridge University, 1989
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