MCN Overview

We are working in the field of molecular and cellular mechanisms of neuronal synaptic plasticity. Team leaders focus on three main research areas (link research overview) in six different research lines, and a neuroproteomics and bioinformatics group (link research teams).

Our work is aimed at understanding synaptic (dys)functions at different levels of analysis in animal models and the human postmortem brain particularly relating to neurodegenerative (link 2) and psychiatric disease (link 3). LINKS: 1. Molecular mechanisms of synaptic plasticity (Guus Smit), 2. Animal models of psychiatric disease (Sabine Spijker), 3. Dementia science (Ronald van Kesteren), 4. Glial-regulated neuronal plasticity (Mark Verheijen), 5. Memory circuits (Michel van den Oever), 6. Addiction (Taco de Vries), 7. Neuroproteomics (Ka Wan Li), 7. Applied bioinformatics.

Multidisciplinary approach: The research of the teams is highly multi-disciplinary. Team members have developed novel proteomics technologies (Neuroproteomics), high-content neuronal cellular screening assays (Cellomics), automated behavioral screening, and opto- and pharmaco-genetics (Memory circuits) approaches. Synaptic proteomics approaches have been instrumental in defining the molecular composition of the synaptic proteome and its functional annotation (link SynGO), and discovering new protein-protein interactions of the synaptic interactome (Synaptic plasticity).

Brain disease-related research: Work of the group has led to new insights in plasticity mechanisms of drug addiction (Psychiatric disease, Addiction, Memory circuits) and nicotine effects in the brain. Special emphasis has been on mechanisms that modulate synaptic plasticity in relation to memory function (Learning & Memory). Connecting animal models and human brain proteomics in the field of Alzheimer’s disease (Synaptic plasticity) has led to new insights of plasticity-confounding principles (Dementia science). Given the recent advances in human genetics of brain disorders, we put emphasis on our cellomics analysis (link cellomics), using high-content screening as a core technology to reveal gene function (link psychiatric disorders; link Cosyn). The use of patient cell derived human neurons for model studies in vitro is one of the promises of the years to come (link ips center).

Sabine Spijker, Michel van den Oever, Taco de Vries, Ronald van Kesteren. Ka Wan Li, Mark Verheijen and Guus Smit