Proceedings PaperReal-time imaging of dynamic translocation of fluorescent proteins at synapses in living neurons
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To understand the biology of living cells, such as the neurons in our brain, we focus on the molecular signaling interactions that proteins perform intracellularly. We have been studying the behavior of an enzyme, termed 'CaMKII', inside living neurons maintained in tissue culture. This enzyme plays a critical role in the control of synaptic transmission. Such role may involve the dynamic translocation of the enzyme at synaptic sites upon specific stimuli. To study this translocation, we use a cellular imaging technique that allows us to monitor the movement and targeting of CaMKII tagged by genetic engineering with a green fluorescent protein (GFP). We find that the enzyme translocates within seconds to synapses upon synaptic activation by neurotransmitter application. Our approach has lead to several key findings on the regulation of CaMKII translocation to the synapse and on its potential role in synaptic plasticity. However, several new advances in photonics and image analysis, which we will implement in our laboratory, will greatly help pushing the limits of our resolution of such type molecular event in living cells.