3 years PhD student position in Neurobiology (Dendritic spine mechanobiology)

Deciphering dendritic spine mechanobiology during synaptic plasticity using super-resolution microscopy.

The dendritic spine is a small protrusive structure that is made of a head and a narrow neck emerging from the dendritic shaft. This structure is crucial for neuronal physiology as it is where the postsynaptic compartment of most excitatory synapses is localized and its peculiar shape allows for specific micro-compartmentalization of neuronal signaling. Spine morphology is very plastic; spine head and neck sizes correlate almost perfectly with synaptic strength and spines grow or shrink during synaptic potentiation or depression, respectively (Nakahata, Frontiers in Synaptic Neurosciences 2018). Importantly, the molecular composition and the correlated morphology of spines are critical for synaptic function. Mechano-sensing is emerging as a key mechanism regulating neuronal functions during physiological processes, including neuronal development (Koser, Nature Neurosciences 2016) and synaptic transmission (Ucar, Nature 2021). Despite the fact that they probably involve adhesion and cytoskeleton proteins, the molecular mechanisms underlying neuronal mechano-sensing remain unknown. The overarching objective of this PhD project addresses this precise fundamental question.

The PhD student will benefit from cutting edge facilities and interdisciplinary scientific environment. In particular, Anna Brachet in Choquet’s team scientific and technical knowledge on dendritic spine biology (Brachet, Cell Report 2021, Brachet, JCB 2015), Giannone’s team expertise on mechanobiology and the cytoskeleton (Massou, Nature Cell Biology 2020; Chazeau, EMBO Journal 2014), IINS facilities (Cell Biology, Molecular Biology) and the Bordeaux Imaging Center will be instrumental for this project. The PhD student will be encouraged to present their data in international meetings.

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