2021 Undergraduate Summer Research Program Participant

Home Department: Biology
Mentor: Thomas Südhof (Molecular & Cellular Physiology)

“Elucidating an Explicit Model for the Alternative Splicing of Neurexins”

The lab is working to understand how neurons communicate with each other across synapses. One well-characterized regulator of the synapse and neural network formation is a class of cell-adhesion molecules known as Neurexins (Nrxns). Mutations in genes encoding Nrxns and their binding partners have been implicated in neuropsychiatric disorders such as autism spectrum disorders (ASDs) and schizophrenia (SCZ). It is unclear whether these phenotypes are a result of mutations altering gene expression levels as opposed to changes in the types of Nrxn isoforms generated as regulated by a mechanism known as alternative splicing. Ryan is working to characterize an explicit model for the alternative splicing of Nrxns throughout the brain, which can begin to provide insight into its functional relevance at the level of circuit formation and behavior.