My laboratory is focused on the cell biology of neurons. Our work is directed to understanding the trafficking of receptor proteins, ion channels, and their associated proteins in the dendrites of neurons, and in particular how trafficking is involved in synaptic plasticity such as learning and memory. Neurons possess long dendritic processes that have many hundreds to many thousands of synaptic specializations along them. By modulating the types and number of various proteins at individual synapses independent of other synapses, neurons can respond differently to potentially thousands of different inputs, radically increasing their processing power. However, little is currently understood about how neurons manage this complex sorting task. Secondly we are studying the role of amino acid sequence determinants, such as ER-retention signals, in regulating the entry of some receptors into a ‘local’ secretory pathway. This local secretory pathway would provide a means to link the activity at a particular synapse or set of synapses, with the appropriate targeting of newly synthesized receptors. Such a linkage would begin to solve the complex protein trafficking and sorting problems presented by neurons. Defects in such a linkage are also likely to underpin diseases of synaptic dysfunction. View Dr. Standley’s biographical information here Using an array of molecular, biochemical, and imaging techniques we are actively pursuing two different projects. First, we are studying the regulation of glutamate receptor trafficking from the endoplasmic reticulum (ER) throughout the secretory pathway (see Example 1). We have identified a number of transient interactions with associated proteins along the secretory pathway that contribute to sorting of these proteins.
Mason Ronilo – Mason is destined for medical school and has a strong interest in neuroscience research.
Mariam Avetisyan – Mariam is a Project Specialist with the Master of Biomedical Sciences Program and will commence in May 2015