2017 Student Research Conference:
30th Annual Student Research Conference

The Role of Postsynaptic Phosphorylation in Synaptic Plasticity at the Drosophila Neuromuscular Junction


Tiffany Ou*, Smruthi V. Chintakunta, L. Sofia Gonzalez, Linh H. Le, and Kristin L. Schlueter
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 onto distinct postsynaptic cells, and memories are made by strengthening a tiny fraction of these. Our working hypothesis is: retrograde signaling (from postsynaptic to the presynaptic cell) is integral for this transcription-regulated synaptic strengthening. We will be focusing on the common excitor, a motoneuron that synapses onto multiple bodywall muscle fibers at the Drosophila melanogaster neuromuscular junction (NMJ). Previous studies manipulating the activity of a calcium-dependent kinase (CaMKII) and a calcium-dependent phosphatase (Calcineurin) in only one muscle indicates that disruptions to postsynaptic phosphorylation block a retrograde signal which normally strengthens synapses in a target-specific manner. We hypothesize that the balance of calcium-dependent phosphorylation and dephosphorylation regulates the expression of postsynaptic glutamate receptors, which in turn stimulate an activity-dependent retrograde growth signal.

Keywords: Drosophila, Synapse , Tagging, calcium-dependent, calcineurin, retrograde, phosphorylation, plasticity

Topic(s):Biology

Presentation Type: Oral Paper

Session: 105-3
Location: MG 2001
Time: 8:30

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