Genes, Development And Behavior
Department of Translational Neuroscience
Utrecht, The Netherlands

Student Projects

G-protein coupled receptors and synaptic integration in the ventral tegmental area

Aim: determine how GPCRs regulate excitatory and inhibitory input to dopamine neurons in the VTA.
Experimental work: whole-cell patch clamp recordings, pharmacology, immunohistochemistry

Contact: Geert M.J. Ramakers

The role of axon guidance molecules in acticity-dependent synaptic plasticity in the hippocampus

Aim: determine if and how axon guidance molecules regulate LTP and LTD in the CA1 field of the hippocampus.
Experimental work: field potential recordings, pharmacology

Contact: Geert M.J. Ramakers

The role of G-protein coupled receptors in cellular and synaptic plasticity in the striatum

Aim: determine how GPCRs regulate cellular excitability and excitatory and inhibitory input to medium spiny neurons in the striatum.
Experimental work: whole-cell patch clamp recordings, pharmacology, immunohistochemistry

Contact: Geert M.J. Ramakers

Measuring dopamine overflow in the striatum using fast scan cyclic voltammetry

Aim: quantify stimulus-induced dopamine overflow in the striatum and determine the effect of repeated drug exposure on stimulus-induced dopamine overflow.
Experimental work: fast scan cyclic voltammetry, pharmacology

Contact: Geert M.J. Ramakers

Functional Characterization of a Bacterial Cyclic Nucleotide Regulated K+-channel

Cyclic nucleotides (cNMPs) are important secondary messenger molecules that mediate a multitude of processes by activating several different proteins in the signalling cascade. One such family of proteins relates to ion channels. Upon binding cNMPs the channels open, which results in change in membrane potential of cells. Channels regulated by cNMPs have been extensively characterized in sensory systems like rod- and cone-photoreceptors, and excitatory cells in heart and brain, but the molecular mechanism of activation remains poorly understood. The aim of the current project is to comprehend the effects of ligand binding on channel opening.

The project involves functionally characterizing a bacterial homolog (mlCNG) of cNMP regulated channel by electrophysiological methods. The mlCNG channel serves as a useful model system, as structural reference data is available on the domains of the channel separately. Furthermore, the channel protein has also been studied with respect to ligand binding, but the activation profile by electrophysiological measurements is lacking. Electrophysiological measurements will be performed on the mlCNG channel by patch-clamp techniques on giant bacterial sphaeroplasts and liposomes.

This project will be undertaken as collaborative effort between Rudolf Magnus Institute of Neuroscience, Department of Neuroscience and Pharmacology (G.M.J. Ramakers) and the NMR Spectroscopy Research Group (M. Baldus), Bijvoet Center for Biomolecular Research at the University of Utrecht.

Contact: Dr. G.M.J. Ramakers (g.m.j.ramakers@umcutrecht.nl), Prof. Dr. M. Baldus (m.baldus@uu.nl; http://www.nmr.chem.uu.nl) or Dr . A. A. Cukkemane (a.a.cukkemane@uu.nl; http://www.nmr.chem.uu.nl).