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Andres Villu Maricq "Genetic dissection of glutamatergic signaling : New mechanisms and molecules"

Abstract :

We are interested in how glutamatergic circuits develop and function.
One such circuit mediates avoidance behaviors to tactile and chemical stimuli. Our initial efforts have focused on developing novel genetic strategies to determine the roles of specific glutamate receptor subunits in avoidance behaviors and to identify gene products that are required for glutamate receptor assembly, localization, insertion and function. Using these strategies, we first determined how non-NMDA and NMDA receptors participate in decoding polymodal sensory stimuli. We are now building on these results to discover new gene products that are required for glutamatergic circuit function. To date, we have identified and characterized a transmembrane CUB-domain protein called SOL-1 that is absolutely and selectively required for non-NMDA glutamate receptor function. We are now extending our genetic screens to the study of NMDA receptors. These studies will help provide a molecular-based understanding of the establishment and function of glutamatergic synapses in the context of a simple circuit that controls avoidance behaviors.