This is an application for an administrative diversity supplement to R01 MH113349, ?Dissecting the assembly of vertebrate neurotransmitter release sites? to support the research training and experience of Christopher Minasi. Christopher is a recent graduate of Florida Atlantic University. Christopher is Hispanic/Latino, a group that is underrepresented in biomedical sciences. He has a B.S. in Neuroscience and is highly interested in pursuing a career as a neuroscientist. Currently, he is participating in a post-baccalaureate program at Harvard, preparatory to applying to graduate school for matriculation in the fall of 2020. Christopher's work will elucidate three scientific questions in three phases. In the first phase, Christopher will determine whether ELKS can be recruited to the presynaptic plasma membrane upon disruption of the active zone protein complex, and preliminary data support that this is possible. In the second phase, Christopher will assess the mechanisms through which ELKS is recruited to synapses. In the third phase, Christopher will answer what active zone proteins are recruited by ELKS, and he will determine the underlying mechanisms. This research plan is structured such that in the early phases, Christopher learns experimental designs and techniques, and the key concepts in the field. In the later phases, he will lead the project intellectually by formulating hypotheses, by designing experiments to address these hypotheses, and by reaching scientific conclusions. This research experience is accompanied by multiple levels of mentoring, a focused plan to learn skills in scientific presentation, and guidance in developing a career in the neurosciences. It is also complemented with classwork to learn key concepts in molecular neuroscience. Together, the research and training plans are aimed at preparing Christopher for an academic career in neuroscience, with the concrete goal of admission to a top neuroscience graduate program by 2020.

Public Health Relevance

The precise assembly and operation of the release apparatus for neurotransmitters is critical for normal brain function and is affected in brain disease. This supplement supports Christopher Minasi to study the assembly of the neurotransmitter release apparatus. The results will provide detailed molecular insights into mechanisms of neuronal communication and how such communication fails in brain disorders.

National Institute of Health (NIH)
National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH)
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Driscoll, Jamie
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Harvard Medical School
Schools of Medicine
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de Jong, Arthur P H; Roggero, Carlos M; Ho, Meng-Ru et al. (2018) RIM C2B Domains Target Presynaptic Active Zone Functions to PIP2-Containing Membranes. Neuron 98:335-349.e7
Held, Richard G; Kaeser, Pascal S (2018) ELKS active zone proteins as multitasking scaffolds for secretion. Open Biol 8:
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Wong, Man Yan; Liu, Changliang; Wang, Shan Shan H et al. (2018) Liprin-?3 controls vesicle docking and exocytosis at the active zone of hippocampal synapses. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A 115:2234-2239
Biederer, Thomas; Kaeser, Pascal S; Blanpied, Thomas A (2017) Transcellular Nanoalignment of Synaptic Function. Neuron 96:680-696