Joint Science Department Seminar


"Studying Molecular Mechanisms of Synaptic Transmission Using Specific Mutations in Fly"
Dr. Karen Parfitt, Associate Professor of Biology
Pomona College
From: 11:00 AM To: 12:00 PM
Thursday, Sep 23, 2010
Keck Science Center, Burns Lecture Hall
An important frontier in cell biology and neuroscience involves trying to elucidate the mechanisms by which a membrane-bound compartment, such as a pre-synaptic vesicle containing chemical neurotransmitters, can fuse with a cell membrane and release its contents. In terms of neuronal function, the understanding of these transmitter release mechanisms are crucial to processes of learning and memory and the modes of action of numerous neuroactive drugs. The identification and characterization of several membrane-associated proteins on the vesicles and cell membranes of neurons hint that they aid in this energetically-unfeasible release process, but we do not know how. One strategy for understanding this protein machinery that aids in membrane fusion and transmitter release is to systematically eliminate each protein player, or potentially critical regions of each protein, in a system in which it is possible to do so, such as the fruit fly Drosophila. Prof. Parfitt will discuss recent work in her lab on a presynaptic protein required for normal neurotransmitter release, and a pediatric neurodegenerative disease that occurs in its absence.
Seminar Registered by: Velda Yount


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