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Our Laboratory wants to contribute to a better mechanistic understanding of the cellular processes that cause or mediate the "pathological" elimination of synapse.
There has been a long-standing motivation to follow the cellular and molecular events of synapse formation and remodeling directly in vivo. When biological processes are exclusively studied using timed sequences of fixed preparations, transition states may easily be missed and the temporal order of cellular events might not be determined adequately. Fruit fly larvae are very amenable to genetic manipulations and are transparent; thus they are ideally suited for in vivo imaging aiming to address the time course and mechanisms of action of synaptic molecules. We furthermore use this model system to investigate what molecular or cellular events (e.g. the lack of a specific protein) makes synapses prone to elimination. Synapse elimination is an important cellular correlate of learning and memory. Both impaired as well as increased synapse elimination result in neurological disorders. Thus, a more general understanding of the above described processes will hopefully pave the way for future strategies focused on stabilizing synapses prior, or after, the onset of neurodegeneration.
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