The Gold lab is a structural and molecular neuroscience lab based in the UCL Dept of Neuroscience, Physiology & Pharmacology. We study signalling protein complexes that respond to the second messengers cyclic AMP and calcium. These proteins drive dynamic processes throughout the body including changes in heart rate and insulin release. However, our focus is on protein complexes that regulate synaptic strength which are essential for normal brain function including learning.
We apply structural techniques including protein crystallography, electron microscopy, and crosslinking coupled to mass spectrometry to build up structural models of protein assemblies that include the major second messenger receptors protein Kinase A (PKA) and CaMKII. Our lab links structure to function by experimentation in dissociated neurons and brain slices, for example using lentiviruses to introduce targeted mutations in synaptic proteins.
We are also developing new technologies for manipulating cyclic AMP signalling, and we enjoy collaborating with other labs within NPP for structural analysis of ligand-gated ion channels. We are members of the Institute of Structural and Molecular Biology.
“Long-lasting changes in the strength of synaptic connections between neurons underlie learning and memory. Synaptic plasticity is mediated by signalling enzymes that are activated by the second messengers calcium and cyclic AMP. We focus on understanding at the structural and molecular level how protein assemblies that respond to these second messengers alter synaptic strength”