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 Cell Biology

Endocytosis is critical for a variety of functions in eukaryotic cells, including receptor inter­nalization, nutrient uptake, antigen presentation and synaptic transmission. Vesicle formation during receptor-mediated endocytosis involves complex structural and regulatory machinery. Little is known about how it interconnects with the actin cytoskeleton underlying the plasma membrane. A coupling between actin and membrane trafficking might be of particular importance in cells that rely on very efficient and highly regulated membrane trafficking processes, such as regulated secretory cells - in particular neurons. In neurons, this interplay may be of high efficiency to ensure rapid compensatory endocytosis after synaptic transmitter release. Furthermore, postsynaptic modulation of receptor content in the membrane by insertion and endocytic uptake, respectively, is thought to be a basis of synaptic plasticity. The specialized cytomatrix structures on both sides of the synaptic cleft may orchestrate these synaptic functions. Our main research focus is to search for, identify and characterize molecular players at the functional interface between endocytosis and the cortical actin cytoskeleton.

Analysis of proteins at the functional interface of endocytosis and cytoskeletal dynamics, such as syndapin and Abp1, represents a route to a better understanding of the working mechanisms within the complex endocytic machinery, of its regulation and of its crosstalk to the cortical actin cytoskeleton and special cytomatrix structures. These cell biological insights shall significantly promote our understanding of how the speed and efficiency of synaptic transmission is accomplished and of how the complex and dynamic environment of the synapse is established, maintained and remodeled during synaptic plasticity processes.

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