MCN Overview

We are working in the field of molecular and cellular mechanisms of neuronal synaptic plasticity.

MCN comprises the following teams: Molecular mechanisms of synaptic plasticity (Guus Smit), Animal models of psychiatric disease (Sabine Spijker), Dementia science (Ronald van Kesteren), Glial-regulated neuronal plasticity (Mark Verheijen), Memory circuits (Michel van den Oever), Molecular engrams (Priyanka Rao), Synapse gene mapping (Loek van der Kallen) and Addiction (Taco de Vries), complemented by a neuroproteomics and bioinformatics core facility.

MCN teams aim to understand synaptic (dys)function at different levels of analysis in animal models and the human postmortem brain particularly related to learning and memory, neurodegeneration and psychiatric disorders.

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

Brain disease-related research: Work of the group has led to new insights in plasticity mechanisms of drug, alcohol and nicotine in the brain. Special emphasis has been on mechanisms that modulate synaptic plasticity in relation to adapative and maladaptive memory formation, storage and retrieval. Connecting animal models and human brain proteomics in the field of Alzheimer’s disease has led to new insights of plasticity-confounding principles . Given the recent advances in human genetics of brain disorders, we put emphasis on our cellomics analysis, using high-content screening as a core technology to reveal gene function . The use of patient cell derived human neurons for model studies in vitro is one of the promises of the years to come.