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Joseph Kittler

Department of Neuroscience, Physiology & Pharmacology

Cell biology of the synapse

We are interested in understanding the contribution played by intracellular transport and membrane trafficking of neurotransmitter receptors, transporters and organelles for regulating neuronal activity and synapse function. Major directions of the lab include studying how neuronal excitability and synaptic plasticity are regulated by the trafficking of GABAA receptors and glutamate transporters. Another major focus is to understand the molecular mechanisms that regulate recruitment of mitochondria (and hence ATP production) to synapses during neuronal activity and in neurodegeneration. We use various approaches including molecular and cell biology, physiology and imaging to study these processes.


Current projects include: imaging the surface membrane dynamics of GABAA receptors with semi conductor nanocrystals (Quantum Dots); studying the mechanisms that underlie activity dependent recruitment of mitochondrial energy provision to synapses; elucidating the molecular mechanisms that regulate glutamate transporter distribution and function.


MacAskill AF, Rinholm JE, Twelvetrees AE, Arancibia-Carcamo IL, Muir J, Fransson A, Aspenstrom P, Attwell D and Kittler JT (2009) Miro1 Is a Calcium Sensor for Glutamate Receptor-Dependent Localization of Mitochondria at Synapses. Neuron 61:541-555 (see also the preview by Cai and Sheng in the same issue of Neuron).

Smith KR, McAinsh K, Chen G, Arancibia-Carcamo IL, Haucke V, Yan Z, Moss SJ, Kittler JT (2008) Regulation of inhibitory synaptic transmission by a conserved atypical interaction of GABAA receptor β and γ- subunits with the clathrin AP2 adaptor. Neuropharmacology 55:844-850.

Kittler JT, Chen G, Kukhtina V, Vahedi-Faridi A, Tretter V, Smith KR, McAinsh K, Arancibia-Carcamo L, Saenger W, Haucke V, Yan Z and Moss SJ (2008) Regulation of synaptic inhibition by phospho-depedent binding of the AP2 complex to a YECL motif in the GABAA receptor g2 subunit. Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. 105:3616-21.

Kittler JT, Thomas P, Tretter V, Bogdanov Y, Haucke V, Smart T, Moss SJ (2004) Huntingtin Associated protein 1 regulates inhibitory synaptic transmission by modulating γ-aminobutyric acid type A receptor membrane trafficking. Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. 101:12736-41.


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