Research

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Optical Control and Probing of Synaptic Signaling Proteins


We use novel, optical approaches to study membrane proteins, in particular to understand how protein complexes assemble and transmit signals across cell membranes.

Our main focus is on glutamate receptor signaling. Glutamate receptors (GluRs) play a key role in the central nervous system, where they pass excitatory signals across synapses and modulate synaptic strength and plasticity.

We combine biochemical methods, spectroscopic techniques, live cell imaging and electrophysiology to gain further insight into GluR function and physiology. As part of our toolset we use chemical photoswitches to manipulate GluRs with light – a method that allows for the precise control of specific receptor complexes with high spatial and temporal precision. At the same time, the engineering of photo-controllable ion channels and GPCRs provides a powerful tool for optogenetic and pharmacological studies.