Photo of RFG Toonen
20032020

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Personal profile

Research

To process information the brain is constantly changing the strength of the individual contacts (synapses) between nerve cells. Strict control of this synaptic plasticity is important, as dysregulation is often associated with neurological and psychiatric disorders.

The main goal of my lab is to advance our understanding of the mechanisms that support synaptic plasticity and their dysfunction in disorders such as Alzheimer’s, epilepsy, schizophrenia and autism to eventually be able to provide novel therapeutic targets.

We study:

Presynaptic mechanisms of synaptic plasticity

Both pre- and postsynaptic mechanisms contribute to changes in synaptic strength. We focus on presynaptic mechanisms by studying the function of key proteins of the synaptic vesicle fusion machinery, their interactors and downstream effectors in wildtype and disease model systems. One important goal is to understand the role of posttranslational modifications (phosphorylation, Ubi/SUMOylation) of presynaptic proteins in the dynamics of synaptic transmission.

Secretory vesicle dynamics and release

In addition to synaptic vesicles, neurons contain vesicles that store and release many different types of neuromodulatory cargo (neuropeptides and Neurotrophins o.a.). We study the molecular mechanisms that transport and recruit these vesicles to the plasma membrane, their calcium dependent fusion and the effect of secreted cargo on synaptic plasticity.

Teaching

I am coordinator of the Fundamental Neurocience track in the second year of the Research Master Neurosc ience.

I coordinate the Minor Biomolecular and Neurosciences track Neuroscience, and the Master courses Live Cell Imaging and Developmental Neuroscience.

I am a member of the Master of Neurocience education committee and the ONWAR PhD teaching committee 

Ancillary activities

No ancillary activities

Ancillary activities are updated daily

Academic qualification

Neuroscience, PhD, Utrecht University

Award Date: 3 Jun 2002

User created Keywords

  • synapse
  • brain function
  • secretory vesicles
  • synaptic plasticity
  • neuropeptides
  • neuronal cilia

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