Neuroscience Lecture by Kai Zinn (Caltech, Pasadena, USA)

Title: "Control of axon guidance and synaptogenesis by ligand-receptor interactions"

Kai Zinn

Time and venue: 11.00 a.m. at the Lecture Hall of the Max Planck Institute for Brain Research, Max-von-Laue-Str. 4, 60438 Frankfurt am Main (Campus Riedberg)

Abstract: Cell-cell interactions in the developing nervous system program its wiring pattern. These interactions are mediated by cell-surface and secreted (CSS) proteins expressed on neurons and non-neuronal cells. Metazoan genomes encode hundreds of CSS proteins expressed in the developing nervous system. Most are ‘orphan receptors’, with unknown ligands and unknown functions. To understand the mechanisms involved in assembly of neural circuits, it will be necessary to determine ligand-receptor relationships for many neural CSS proteins and analyze the developmental functions of each binding interaction. We have studied Drosophila receptor tyrosine phosphatases (RPTPs), a class of cell surface receptor that reverses reactions catalyzed by tyrosine kinases, for many years. We recently created an ‘interactome’ for the extracellular domains of four RPTPs, demonstrating that they bind to a diverse collection of cell surface proteins. For one of these, Stranded at second (Sas), we have shown that its interactions with the RPTP control glial cell fate and glial proliferation. We have also participated in a large project with Chris Garcia’s group at Stanford to create an interactome for all immunoglobulin superfamily (IgSF) and leucine-rich repeat proteins (a total of 202 proteins). These studies revealed that a subfamily of 21 IgSF proteins, the Dprs, interacts selectively with another subfamily of 11 proteins, the DIPs. Only one of these 32 proteins, Dpr1, has been previously studied. Our preliminary studies suggest that Dprs and DIPs are likely to facilitate formation of specific synaptic connections during development. We are currently investigating their expression patterns and functions in the neuromuscular system and the brain.

Host: Erin Schuman



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