The ongoing projects listed below are sponsored by Vanderbilt University, National Institute of Health, American Federation for Aging Research, the Rosalinde and Arthur Gilbert Foundation.

  1. Origination, trafficking and recycling of synaptic vesicles
  2. Synaptic vesicles are the smallest but most essential organelle in neuron. They initiate neuronal communication at synapse by releasing signaling molecules called neurotransmitter. The behavior of synaptic vesicles has been one of the most intriguing topics in modern neurobiology. Using photoluminescent nanoparticle and 3D super-resolution microscope, we are able to follow these tiny creatures individually in live neurons. We are investigating their localization, mobility, and reuse in the context of synaptic plasticity.

  1. Exo-/endocytosis in dopaminergic synapses
  2. As one of the most important neurotransmitter, dopamine has a variety of functions in brain, such as voluntary movement and reward learning. Dopamine release can be tonic and/or phasic, both of which involves the modulation of exo-/endocytosis. Implementing our single vesicle imaging in dopaminergic neurons from midbrain, we set to address the kinetics of dopamine-releasing vesicles and the regulatory mechanisms underneath. This work has great implication in drug addiction and Parkinson’s disease.

  1. Vesicle retrieval and Alzheimer’s disease
  2. Surface expression of membrane proteins govern the signaling pathway those protein involved, exemplified by the composition of different Glu-receptors in synaptic plasticity. To reach a mechanistic understanding of their surface trafficking and turnover, high spatiotemporal resolution is necessary. Combining advanced optical devices and exceptional fluorescent probes, we are approaching this goal with a 3D super-resolution imaging system, which provides single molecule detection capability and

  1. Membrane protein traffic mediated by exo-/endocytosis
  2. Surface expression of membrane proteins govern the signaling pathway in which those proteins involved, exemplified by the composition of different Glu-receptors in synaptic plasticity. To reach a mechanistic understanding of their surface trafficking and turnover, high spatiotemporal resolution is necessary. Combining advanced optical devices and exceptional fluorescent probes, we are approaching this goal with a 3D super-resolution imaging system, which provides single molecule detection capability and millisecond temporal resolution.

  1. Bio-nano hybrid sensors to interrogate neuronal signaling
  2. The extreme complexity of neuronal circuitry provides limitless potential of our brain, but it also poses daunting challenge for neuroscientists who try to decipher our mind. As one of many bold attempts people have taken, we are adapting novel nanotechnology in our research on synaptic transmission. Working with chemists, physicists and engineers, we are developing biomolecule-based nanosensors bearing unique photochemical properties ideal for probing pH, voltage and ion concentration changes in vitro and in vivo.