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Personal profile


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.


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

Education/Academic qualification

Neuroscience, PhD, Utrecht University


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

Fingerprint Dive into the research topics where R.F.G. Toonen is active. These topic labels come from the works of this person. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

  • 18 Similar Profiles
SNARE Proteins Medicine & Life Sciences
Secretory Vesicles Medicine & Life Sciences
Neurons Medicine & Life Sciences
Synapses Medicine & Life Sciences
Synaptic Vesicles Medicine & Life Sciences
Synaptic Transmission Medicine & Life Sciences
Munc18 Proteins Medicine & Life Sciences
Exocytosis Medicine & Life Sciences

Network Recent external collaboration on country level. Dive into details by clicking on the dots.

Research Output 2003 2019

  • 52 Article
  • 14 PhD Thesis - Research VU, graduation VU
  • 1 Comment / Letter to the editor

A Single-Cell Model for Synaptic Transmission and Plasticity in Human iPSC-Derived Neurons

Meijer, M., Rehbach, K., Brunner, J. W., Classen, J. A., Lammertse, H. C. A., van Linge, L. A., Schut, D., Krutenko, T., Hebisch, M., Cornelisse, L. N., Sullivan, P. F., Peitz, M., Toonen, R. F., Brüstle, O. & Verhage, M., 14 May 2019, In : Cell Reports. 27, 7, p. 2199-2211.e6

Research output: Contribution to JournalArticleAcademicpeer-review

Open Access
Neuronal Plasticity
Synaptic Transmission

Fbxo41 Promotes Disassembly of Neuronal Primary Cilia

King, C. R., Ana, A. R., Chazeau, A., Saarloos, I., van der Graaf, A. J., Verhage, M. & Toonen, R. F., 1 Dec 2019, In : Scientific Reports. 9, 1, 8179.

Research output: Contribution to JournalArticleAcademicpeer-review

Open Access
Aurora Kinase A
Ubiquitin-Protein Ligases

Molecular mechanisms of dense core vesicle exocytosis in mature and developing mouse neurons

van Keimpema, L., 2019, 156 p.

Research output: PhD ThesisPhD Thesis - Research VU, graduation VUAcademic

Open Access

SynGO: An Evidence-Based, Expert-Curated Knowledge Base for the Synapse

Koopmans, F., van Nierop, P., Andres-Alonso, M., Byrnes, A., Cijsouw, T., Coba, M. P., Cornelisse, L. N., Farrell, R. J., Goldschmidt, H. L., Howrigan, D. P., Hussain, N. K., Imig, C., de Jong, A. P. H., Jung, H., Kohansalnodehi, M., Kramarz, B., Lipstein, N., Lovering, R. C., MacGillavry, H., Mariano, V. & 53 othersMi, H., Ninov, M., Osumi-Sutherland, D., Pielot, R., Smalla, K. H., Tang, H., Tashman, K., Toonen, R. F. G., Verpelli, C., Reig-Viader, R., Watanabe, K., van Weering, J., Achsel, T., Ashrafi, G., Asi, N., Brown, T. C., De Camilli, P., Feuermann, M., Foulger, R. E., Gaudet, P., Joglekar, A., Kanellopoulos, A., Malenka, R., Nicoll, R. A., Pulido, C., de Juan-Sanz, J., Sheng, M., Südhof, T. C., Tilgner, H. U., Bagni, C., Bayés, À., Biederer, T., Brose, N., Chua, J. J. E., Dieterich, D. C., Gundelfinger, E. D., Hoogenraad, C., Huganir, R. L., Jahn, R., Kaeser, P. S., Kim, E., Kreutz, M. R., McPherson, P. S., Neale, B. M., O'Connor, V., Posthuma, D., Ryan, T. A., Sala, C., Feng, G., Hyman, S. E., Thomas, P. D., Smit, A. B. & Verhage, M., 17 Jul 2019, In : Neuron. 103, 2, p. 217-234.e4 22 p.

Research output: Contribution to JournalArticleAcademicpeer-review

Open Access
Knowledge Bases
Gene Ontology
Molecular Sequence Annotation

Correction: Quantifying exosome secretion from single cells reveals a modulatory role for GPCR signaling

Verweij, F. J., Bebelman, M. P., Jimenez, C. R., Garcia-Vallejo, J. J., Janssen, H., Neefjes, J., Knol, J. C., de Goeij-de Haas, R., Piersma, S. R., Baglio, S. R., Verhage, M., Middeldorp, J. M., Zomer, A., van Rheenen, J., Coppolino, M. G., Hurbain, I., Raposo, G., Smit, M. J., Toonen, R. F. G., van Niel, G. & 1 othersPegtel, D. M., 1 Mar 2018, In : Journal of Cell Biology. 217, 3, p. 1157 1 p.

Research output: Contribution to JournalComment / Letter to the editorAcademic

Open Access