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Development of functional neuronal networks

Juan Burrone

Juan Burrone

Professor of Developmental Neurophysiology

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Neurons in the brain receive a large number of synaptic inputs along their vast dendritic trees. These inputs are not only highly heterogeneous, they also have different identities that can either excite or inhibit neurons, providing an added level of complexity. The information carried by these inputs is subsequently integrated to produce an output, the action potential, which is elicited at a specific location along the axon of a neuron, known as the axon initial segment (AIS). We are interested in understanding the process whereby a neuron integrates synaptic inputs to generate an output. Our questions range from establishing how synaptic inputs form and distribute along dendrites, to how the distribution of excitatory and inhibitory inputs impacts on the output of a neuron and how both inputs (synapses) and outputs (AIS) are modified by neuronal or circuit activity to stabilise the network. Our lab focuses on three main aspects of neuronal and circuit function: (i) understanding synaptic transmission and integration; (ii) studying how synapses form and mature and (iii) exploring how neurons and circuits control their excitability through homeostatic forms of plasticity. We use a combination of imaging, serial block-face scanning electron microscopy, electrophysiology and molecular techniques to approach these subjects. We take a bottom-up approach, where rules learnt in simpler in vitro systems, such as dissociated hippocampal/cortical neurons and organotypic brain slices are taken to more intact systems, such as acute brain slices and the in vivo brain.

Selected publications

Andreae LC, Burrone J (2018) The role of spontaneous neurotransmission in synapse and circuit development. J Neurosci Res 96: 354-359

Stockley JH, Evans K, Matthey M, Volbracht K, Agathou S, Mukanowa J, Burrone J, Káradóttir RT (2017) Surpassing light-induced cell damage in vitro with novel cell culture media. Sci Rep 7: 849

Walker AS, Neves G, Grillo F, Jackson RE, Rigby M, O'Donnell C, Lowe AS, Vizcay-Barrena G, Fleck RA, Burrone J (2017) Distance-dependent gradient in NMDAR-driven spine calcium signals along tapering dendrites. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A 114: E1986-E1995
Glebov OO, Jackson RE, Winterflood CM, Owen DM, Barker EA, Doherty P, Ewers H, Burrone J (2017) Nanoscale Structural Plasticity of the Active Zone Matrix Modulates Presynaptic Function. Cell Rep 18: 2715-2728
Wefelmeyer W, Puhl CJ, Burrone J (2016) Homeostatic Plasticity of Subcellular Neuronal Structures: From Inputs to Outputs. Trends Neurosci 39: 656-667
Jackson RE, Burrone J (2016) Visualizing Presynaptic Calcium Dynamics and Vesicle Fusion with a Single Genetically Encoded Reporter at Individual Synapses. Front Synaptic Neurosci 8: 21
Andreae LC, Burrone J (2015) Spontaneous Neurotransmitter Release Shapes Dendritic Arbors via Long-Range Activation of NMDA Receptors. Cell Rep 15: S2211-1247
Andreae LC, Burrone J (2014) The role of neuronal activity and transmitter release on synapse formation. Curr Opin Neurobiol 27: 47-52
Andreae LC, Fredj NB, Burrone J (2012) Independent vesicle pools underlie different modes of release during neuronal development. J Neurosci 32: 1867-74
Kay L, Humphreys L, Eickholt BJ, Burrone J (2011) Neuronal activity drives matching of pre- and postsynaptic function during synapse maturation. Nat Neurosci 14: 688-90