Wednesday, December 15, 2010

RNA biology in eukaryotes

The Virtanen lab has moved to the Molecular Biology program. The new webpage can be found at
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Cell Biology of the Synapse

Our research deals with the molecular cell biology of the synapse, the type of cell-cell junction specialized on signal transmission between nerve cells. Our laboratory has newly identified a number of protein components of synapses, and we now investigate how these proteins contribute to the formation and functioning of the nervous system. Our work has also contributed to the understanding of nervous system diseases. Dealing with the molecular functioning of a biological system as complex as the nervous system, our research is very interdisciplinary, employing molecular, morphological, electrophysiological and genetic techniques, and spans several levels of complexity (protein structure, protein interactions, regulatory mechanisms, cellular physiology, whole organisms in the form of genetically modified mice).

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The protein, aczonin, concentrates at the active zones of two synaptic terminals contacting a dendrite (immuno electron microscopic image by M.M. Laue)Overexpression of the protein, paralemmin, induces fibroblasts to form dendritic processes and long filopodia (immunofluorescence microscopic image by C. Kutzleb)