Molecular Logic of Building Synapses: Trans-synaptic Adhesion Signaling
Jaewon Ko, Yonsei University
The human brain is a sophisticated organ whose functions are encoded by trillions of nerve cells. These nerve cells are connected to each other to form neural circuits responsible for the computational power that directs all human behaviors. To understand the wiring diagram of neural circuits and their fundamental properties, we need to grasp the cellular and molecular mechanisms that underlie the recognition of correct partners and specification of functional synapses, most of which remain elusive.
My talk is based on two hypotheses: first, that multiple trans-synaptic adhesion molecules are central to synapse formation and func- tion, and second that defective trans-synaptic adhesion signaling manifests in the forms of various brain diseases. I will discuss our recent studies, as well as those of others, that relate to two key synaptic adhesion signaling pathways that have provided a novel mo- lecular framework for understanding excitation and inhibition balance at the synapse level. Our studies also illustrate the importance of an interdisciplinary experimental approach in addressing key neurobiological questions.