UCL Division of Biosciences


Neuroscience - Dmitri Rusakov

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Dmitri Rusakov

Institute of Neurology

Principles of synaptic signal formation in the brain

We are interested in molecular and biophysical mechanisms that control formation and use-dependent modification of rapid transmission signals generated at individual central synapses. We focus on (a) events inside the synaptic cleft, (b) receptor control of presynaptic Ca2+ dynamics, (c) the surrounding glia. To probe these mechanisms, we combine patch-clamp electrophysiology, two-photon excitation imaging, photolytic uncaging and life-time fluorescence microscopy in ex-vivo brain preparations with biophysical modelling.


Current projects include: investigating the role of receptor co-agonists released by astrocytes in use-dependent synaptic plasticity; examining the mechanisms which determine the content of glutamate-filled synaptic vesicles; studying initiation and propagation of action potentials in mossy fibre circuitry of the hippocampus; examining the role of electric fields in shaping neurotransmitter diffusion in the synaptic cleft.

ADDITIONAL INFO: http://www.ion.ucl.ac.uk/~drusakov/

Possible 3-month projects:

1. Ca2+ nano-domains and interpretation of fluorescence Ca2+ imaging at individual presynaptic terminals. Methods: biophysical modelling.

2. Mapping nano-scale extracellular viscosity in the brain. Methods: Acute slices, two-photon time-resolved fluorescence anisotropy imaging microscopy.

3. Axonal Na+ kinetics in mossy fibre circuitry. Methods: patch-clamp electrophysiology, two-photon excitation microscopy.


Henneberger C, Papouin T, Oliet SHR, Rusakov DA (2010) Long-term potentiation depends on release of D-serine from astrocytes. Nature 463: 232-236 (News and Views, 169-170).

Sylantyev S, Savtchenko LP, Niu Y-P, Ivanov AI, Jensen TP, Kullmann DM, Xiao MY, Rusakov DA (2008) Electric fields due to synaptic currents sharpen excitatory transmission. Science 319: 1845-1849.

Savtchenko LP, Rusakov DA (2007) The optimal height of the synaptic cleft. PNAS USA 104: 1823-1828.

Lamsa KP, Heeroma JH, Somogyi P, Rusakov DA, Kullmann DM (2007) Anti-Hebbian long-term potentiation in the hippocampal feedback inhibitory circuit. Science 315: 1262-1266.

Volynski KE, Rusakov DA, Kullmann DM (2006) Presynaptic fluctuations and release-independent depression. Nature Neurosci 9: 1091-1093.

Rusakov DA, Fine A (2003) Extracellular Ca2+ depletion contributes to fast activity-dependent modulation of synaptic transmission in the brain. Neuron 37: 287-297.

More: http://www.ion.ucl.ac.uk/~drusakov/

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