Richard L. Huganir

Johns Hopkins University


Election Year: 2004
Primary Section: 24, Cellular and Molecular Neuroscience
Secondary Section: 28, Systems Neuroscience
Membership Type: Member

Research Interests

I have been interested in the mechanisms that modulate the communication between neurons in the brain. Neurons communicate with each other at specialized areas, called synapses, where signals are sent and received between neurons. At synapses, active neurons release neurotransmitters that travel across the narrow gap between the neurons and bind to specific receptor molecules on the neighboring neuron. The precise dynamic regulation of the efficiency of synaptic transmission is fundamental for learning, memory, motor control and sensory processing as well as synapse formation and neuronal development. The major research interest of my laboratory has been investigating the molecular mechanisms regulating synaptic transmission in the brain. The approach I have taken has been to study the structure, function and regulation of the neurotransmitter receptors in the nervous system. These receptors mediate synaptic transmission and are a central convergence point for signal transduction at synapses. Modulation of these receptors is a powerful mechanism for the regulation of synaptic transmission. Our studies on these receptors have examined the role of protein phosphorylation in the regulation of their function and the mechanisms underlying the membrane trafficking and synaptic targeting of the receptors. These studies have demonstrated that regulation of receptor function is a major mechanism for the regulation of synaptic transmission in the brain and are an important determinant of animal behavior.

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