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Molecular and Cellular Neurosciences - From synapse formation to function
November 1 - 5
Ana Luisa Carvalho, Carlos Duarte, Emília Duarte, Ramiro Almeida
Molecular Neuroscience Course:
From synapse formation to function
November 1st-5th, 2010

Ana Luísa Carvalho (alc@cnc.uc.pt)
Carlos B. Duarte (cbduarte@ci.uc.pt)
Ramiro D. Almeida (ramirodalmeida@gmail.com)
Emília Duarte (epduarte@cnc.uc.pt)


Chinfei Chen
Children´s Hospital, Boston
Harvard Medical School
Boston, MA, USA

Ana Luísa Carvalho
CNC & Department of Life Sciences
University of Coimbra
Coimbra, Portugal

Carlos B. Duarte
CNC & Department of Life Sciences
University of Coimbra
Coimbra, Portugal

Ramiro D. Almeida
CNC, University of Coimbra
Coimbra, Portugal

Emília Duarte
CNC & Department of Life Sciences
University of Coimbra
Coimbra, Portugal

Manuella P. Kaster
CNC, University of Coimbra
Coimbra, Portugal


Monday, November 1st
9h-9.15h: Structure of the course; Introduction of students and lecturers
9.15h-10.30h: Introduction to Synapses: Structure-Function and Molecular Composition
Ana Luisa Carvalho
11h-12.15h: Presynaptic Terminal Differentiation
Ramiro D. Almeida
14h-15.15h: Molecular Triggers of Synapse Formation and Maturation
Ramiro D. Almeida
15.30h-16.30h: Postsynaptic Receptor Function
Ana Luisa Carvalho

Tuesday, November 2nd
9h-10.15h: Glia cells and synaptic function
Emília Duarte
10.30h-11.45h: 9h-10.15h: Short-term and long-term forms of synaptic plasticity
Chinfei Chen
10.30h-11.45h: Molecular mechanisms of synaptic plasticity: postsynaptic receptor trafficking
Ana Luisa Carvalho
14h-16h: Paper presentations by students – chaired by Ramiro Almeida

Akiko Terauchi, Erin M. Johnson-Venkatesh, Anna B. Toth, Danish Javed, Michael A. Sutton & Hisashi Umemori (2010) Distinct FGFs promote differentiation of excitatory and inhibitory synapses. Nature 465, 783-7.
Students presenting: Carla M.ª Nunes Lopes & Joana Neves
Students discussing: Carla Patrícia Paiva & Fátima Patrícia Martins

Vlasta Lyles, Yali Zhao, and Kelsey C. Martin (2006) Synapse Formation and mRNA Report
Localization in Cultured Aplysia Neurons. Neuron 49, 349–356.

Students presenting: Joana Domingues Vindeirinho & Pedro Azeredo Gouveia
Students discussing: Rodrigo Luiz Santos & Sonya Costa

Natalie Kim, Amy L. Stiegler, Thomas O. Cameron, Peter T. Hallock, Andrea M. Gomez, Julie H. Huang, Stevan R. Hubbard, Michael L. Dustin, and Steven J. Burden (2008) Lrp4 Is a Receptor for Agrin and Forms a Complex with MuSK. Cell 135, 334–342.
Students presenting: Diana Silva & Joana Pedro

Wednesday, November 3rd
9h-10.15h: Synaptic plasticity and sensory experience
Chinfei Chen
10.30h-11.45h: Synaptic plasticity and memory
Ana Luisa Carvalho
14h-15.30h: Paper presentations by students – chaired by Ana Luisa Carvalho

Antonio Sanz-Clemente, Jose A. Matta, John T.R. Isaac, and Katherine W. Roche (2010) Casein Kinase 2 Regulates the NR2 Subunit Composition of Synaptic NMDA Receptors. Neuron 67, 984–996.
Students presenting: Rodrigo Luiz Santos & Sonya Costa
Students discussing: Carla M.ª Nunes Lopes & Joana Neves

Jacek Jaworski, Lukas C. Kapitein, Susana Montenegro Gouveia, Bjorn R. Dortland, Phebe S. Wulf, Ilya Grigoriev, Paola Camera, Samantha A. Spangler, Paola Di Stefano, Jeroen Demmers, Harm Krugers, Paola Defilippi, Anna Akhmanova, and Casper C. Hoogenraad (2009) Dynamic Microtubules Regulate Dendritic Spine Morphology and Synaptic Plasticity. Neuron 61, 85–100.
Students presenting: Sofia Marques Ribeiro & Sandra Rebelo
Students discussing: Joana Domingues Vindeirinho & Pedro Azeredo Gouveia

15.30-17h: Paper presentations by students – chaired by Chinfei Chen

Tomita, S., Stein, V., Stocker, T.J., Nicoll, R.A., and Bredt, D.S. (2005). Bidirectional synaptic plasticity regulated by phosphorylation of stargazin-like TARPs. Neuron 45, 269-277.
Students presenting: Ângela Valério Fernandes & Diogo Comprido
Students discussing: Ana Cristina Gregório & M.ª Joana Guimarães Pinto

Bats, C., Groc, L., and Choquet, D. (2007). The interaction between Stargazin and PSD-95 regulates AMPA receptor surface trafficking. Neuron 53, 719-734.
Students presenting: Carla Patrícia Paiva & Fátima Patrícia Martins
Students discussing: Rui Manuel Benfeitas, Inês Coelho & Mariana Conceição

Thursday, November 4th
8h-15h: Hiking in Serra da Lousã
15.30h-16.15h: Inter- and intra-cellular communication by neurotrophins
Carlos B. Duarte
16.30h-17.15h: Synaptic modulation by neurotrophins
Carlos B. Duarte

Friday, November 5th
9h-10.15h: Synaptic dysfunction in autism
Chinfei Chen
10.30h-11.45h: Synaptic dysfunction in mood disorders
Manuella Kaster
13.30h-15.30h: Paper presentations by students – chaired by Chinfei Chen

Maffei, A., Nataraj, K., Nelson, S.B., and Turrigiano, G.G. (2006). Potentiation of cortical inhibition by visual deprivation. Nature 443, 81-84.
Students presenting: Ana Cristina Gregório &M.ª Joana Guimarães Pinto
Students discussing: Ângela Valério Fernandes, Diogo Comprido & Joana Pedro

Bureau, I., Shepherd, G.M., and Svoboda, K. (2008). Circuit and plasticity defects in the developing somatosensory cortex of FMR1 knock-out mice. J Neurosci 28, 5178-5188.
Students presenting: Rui Manuel Benfeitas, Inês Coelho & Mariana Conceição
Students discussing: Sofia Marques Ribeiro, Sandra Rebelo & Diana Silva

16h: Seminar by Chinfei Chen
Mechanisms of Developmental Remodeling at a Thalamic Synapse

Background reading:

Jin & Garner (2008) Molecular Mechanisms of Presynaptic Differentiation. Annu. Rev. Cell Dev. Biol. 24:237–62.

Bourne JN and Harris KM Balancing Structure and Function at Hippocampal Dendritic Spines. Annu. Rev. Neurosci. 2008. 31:47–67.

Short-term plasticity
Blitz DM, Foster KA and Regehr WG 2004.  Short-term synaptic plasticity:  a comparison of two synapses. Nat. Rev. Neurosci 5:630.

Long-term Plasticity
Kerchner GA and Nicoll RA.  2008. Silent synapses and the emergence of a postsynaptic mechanism for LTP.  Nature Reviews, Neuroscience 9: 813-825.

Dan Y and Poo M-m. 2004.  Spike Timing-Dependent Plasticity of Neural Circuits.  Neuron 44:23-30

Turrigiano GG.  1999.  Homeostatic plasticity in neuronal networks:  the more things change, the more they stay the same. TINS 22:221-227.

Synaptic plasticity and receptor traffic
Kessels & Malinow (2009) Synaptic AMPA Receptor Plasticity and Behavior. Neuron 61, 340.

Shepherd & Huganir (2007) The Cell Biology of Synaptic Plasticity: AMPA Receptor Trafficking. Ann Rev Cell Dev. Biol. 23:613–43.

Synaptic plasticity and sensory experience
Hooks BM, Chen C.  Critical Periods in the Visual System:  Changing Views for a Model of Experience-Dependent Plasticity.  Neuron 2007; 56: 312-326.

AL Carvalho, MV Caldeira, SD Santos and CB Duarte (2008) Role of the brain-derived neurotrophic factor at glutamatergic synapses. British J Pharmacol 153, S310–S324.

Volkmar Leßmann, Tanja Brigadski (2009) Mechanisms, locations, and kinetics of synaptic BDNF secretion: An update. Neuroscience Res 65, 11–22.

Ramocki, M.B., and Zoghbi, H.Y. (2008). Failure of neuronal homeostasis results in common neuropsychiatric phenotypes. Nature 455, 912-918.

Student Assignments
The students are organized in groups and each group is assigned two original papers. The group will present one of the paper, as well as their critical opinion on the major contribution of the paper, and its relevance to the field. The group is also expected to suggest a follow-up strategy for the project. Concerning the second assigned paper, the group will conduct the discussion with another group presenting the paper.

Other Information

Molecular trigers of synapse formation


Presynaptic terminal diferentiation



Synaptic dysfunction and autism


NT trafficking_synaptic regulation

Glial cells and synaptic function

short-term and long term plasticity.portugal2010

synaptic plasticity and sensory experience

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