Molecular NeuroBiology lab @ KBRI Dissecting Learning and Memory!

"Inter-cellular" communication regulating cognitive functions


Cognitive functions are mediated by interaction among neurons in the brain, but glia cells wrapping neuronal connection ("synapse") are also involved in neural transmission and plasticity by exchanging molecules with neurons or glia cells.

Moreover, accumulating evidence has supported an idea that physiological events in the peripheral organs, especially induced by physical exercise, are able to modulate cognitive functions. It is now widely believed that molecular communication between the brain and peripheral organs mediates such exercise-induced cognitive enhancements.

However, exact molecular identities involved in neuron-glia or brain-peripheral organ interaction are largely unknown.

By utilizing protein proximity-labeling tool, such as biotin ligase, we aimed to discover novel secretory proteins regulating synaptic functions and cognition (learning and memory). Several approach including molecular biology, electrophysiology, and behavioral analysis of cognitive functions using mouse models will be adopted for this study.

Another "star" player in the field: astrocyte


Proper regulation of neural circuit formation/elimination & plasticity is essential for normal cognitive functions including learning and memory.
We are focusing on the role of glia cells, astrocytes, in regulating "neural synapses" in functional and structural levels.
In addition, we are also interested in identifying novel molecular factors mediating neuron-glia interaction, which is involved in long-term synaptic plasticity and learning & memory processes.

Finding differences


Based on basic findings about molecular mechanisms regulating normal cognitive functions, we aim to explore key mechanisms related with neurodegenerative diseases. By identifying certain mechanisms altered in the diseased circuits when compared to neuro-glia interactions in the normal neural circuits, our study will provide basic ideas for better diagnosing tools or treatments.