Research Interests

The goal of research in my laboratory is the understanding of molecular events underlying biogenesis and traffic of intracellular membranous organelles. Much of my work is focused on the neuronal synapse, where neurotransmitter containing secretory vesicles (synaptic vesicles) mediate fast chemical transmission. The abundance of these vesicles in brain, and the precise physiological effect produced by their secretion, make them a powerful model organelle for studies of fundamental mechanisms in membrane-cytoskeleton interactions, membrane fusion, and membrane budding. Using in vivo and in vitro systems, as well as cell-free approaches, my laboratory has helped elucidate pathways of synaptic vesicle recycling, identified and/or characterized several nerve terminal-enriched proteins that participate in this recycling and established a critical role in synaptic vesicle biogenesis of interactions between cytosolic proteins and phospholipids of the membrane bilayer. In addition to contributing to a better understanding of synaptic transmission and to the general fields of secretion and endocytosis, my studies on synaptic vesicle dynamics have had an impact in the field of neuroimmunology. I have found that some synaptic vesicle-associated proteins are autoantigens in neurological and endocrine disorders and have established the autoimmune origin of Stiff-Man syndrome.

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Primary Section

Section 24: Cellular and Molecular Neuroscience

Secondary Section

Section 22: Cellular and Developmental Biology