Above: A Drosophila neuromuscular junction with muscle-cell nuclei (white) and neuron (green) with round 'boutons' of new growth due to neuronal activity. 

Synaptic Plasticity

Synaptic plasticity is the ability of synapses in the nervous system to grow or shrink over time, usually in relation to changes in their activity levels. Since interconnectivity of synapses is believed to be a fundamental aspect in memory and learning, a deeper understanding of synaptic plasticity is key to understanding how these processes are regulated. Due to the elongated nature of many neural cells, many mRNAs are believed to localise at synapses before being translated into proteins that are critical in the processes involved in plasticity. 

In the Davis lab we use the Drosophila neuromuscular junction as an easily accessible model to study synaptic plasticity and the mRNA localisation associated with this process. 

Co-workers: Lu Yang, Josh Titlow, Ana Palanca, MK Thompson, Darragh Ennis

Selected Publications: 

Misra M, Edmund H, Ennis D, Schlueter MA, Marot JE, Tambasco J, Barlow I, Sigurbjornsdottir S, Mathew R, Vallés AM, Davis I, Leptin M, Gavis ER.  (2016)  A Genome-Wide Screen for Dendritically Localized RNAs Identifies Genes Required for Dendrite Morphogenesis.G3. Jun (3)

McDermott SM, Yang L, Halstead JM, Hamilton RS, Meignin C, Davis I. (2014) Drosophila Syncrip modulates the expression of mRNAs encoding key synaptic proteins required for morphology at the neuromuscular junction. RNA. 2014 Oct;20(10):1593-606

Halstead JM, Lin YQ, Durraine L, Hamilton RS, Ball G, Neely GG, Bellen HJ, Davis I. (2014) Syncrip/hnRNP Q influences synaptic transmission and regulates BMP signaling at the Drosophila neuromuscular synapse. Biol Open. 3(9):839-49.