2016 Student Research Conference:
29th Annual Student Research Conference

The Role of Postsynaptic Calcium During Synaptic Plasticity in Drosophila
Kristin L. Schlueter* and Linh Le
Dr. Brett A. Berke, Faculty Mentor

The brain encodes memories by strengthening neuronal connections (synapses), allowing information to be transferred between neurons. Central neurons make hundreds to thousands of synapses, and memories are encoded by strengthening a tiny fraction. Since long-term increases in synaptic strength (plasticity) require transcription in the cell nucleus, how do neurons know to strengthen only a subset of their connections? The mechanisms of local plasticity are being studied at the neuromuscular junction (NMJ) of Drosophila because a motoneuron that synapses onto multiple muscle fibers shows local strengthening at a single synapse. Individual NMJ synapses strengthen in an activity-dependent manner by growing new presynaptic boutons and branches, and the calcium influx into the muscle fiber through postsynaptic glutamate receptors regulates this strengthening retrogradely. Calcium also enters postsynaptic muscles through voltage gated calcium channels, which mediate muscle contraction. We are interested in how this postsynaptic calcium influx results in local strengthening of individual NMJs.

Keywords: synapse, plasticity, calcium, Drosophila, neurons, learning and memory

Topic(s):Biology

Presentation Type: Oral Paper

Session: -5
Location: MG 2001
Time: 10:30

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