Head:Dr. Martin Heine
Research Group Molecular Physiology
Leibniz Institute for Neurobiology
Neurons can be seen as computational devices that have to integrate information’s from multiple synaptic contacts and transform this information into an output function. Within a particular synaptic contact, the total number of crucial signalling molecules, like presynaptic calcium channels and postsynaptic receptors is in the order of a few tens to hundred molecules. Considering the stochastic nature of ion channel gating and the ability of integral proteins to change rapidly their position in the synaptic membrane, the question occurs to which extend such molecular noise modulates the input-output relation of a particular neuron or neuronal network. For dendritic located ion channels, the stochastic opening and closing has been identified to substantially increase the precision of neuronal firing rate. Within the synapse, not only the stochastic opening kinetics but also the position of neurotransmitter release and the density of postsynaptic receptors add a substantial source of variability. By using super resolution microscopy (single particle tracking) and electrophysiological methods (patch clamp) we ask the question, how lateral fluctuations in the neuronal membrane and kinetic properties of ion channels may contribute to the computational properties of neuronal cells.