De Jong & Verhage publish in PNAS

18 September 2016

Arthur de Jong and Matthijs Verhage publish a study on how adjustments of synaptic strength depend on the phosphorylation of Synaptotagmin-1, the major calcium-sensor for transmitter release.

Synapses can be temporarily strengthened by bursts of action potentials, which are thought to be a central aspect of information processing in the brain. In this study the FGA-team shows that protein kinase C (PKC)-dependent phosphorylation of synaptotagmin-1 is an essential step in this strengthening. A mutation that prevents synaptotagmin-1 phosphorylation abolishes this strengthening, both after action potential bursts and upon direct PKC activation by a synthetic analog of diacylglycerol, whereas basal synaptic transmission is unaffected. This suggests that synaptotagmin-1 acts in a cooperative fashion with Munc18-1 and Munc13-1, which were previously identified as essential diacylglycerol/PKC substrates. Together these data identify a central pathway linking bursts of action potentials to enhanced synaptic strength.

This work by PhD-student Arthur de Jong is part of his thesis and was instrumental in making a successful next step in his career, as a post-doc at Harvard.