Brain cells, called as neurons, communicate with each other via a fundamental communication link known as synapses. There are about a billion neurons in a human brain, and they communicate with each other via synapses. Therefore, it is not surprising that the disruption of synapses is associated with various kinds of devastating developmental disorders (e.g. mental retardation, and Austism) as well as age-related neurodegenerative disorders (like Alzheimer’s disease). Our aim is to understand the basic molecular mechanisms that govern the development and maintenance of synapses.
Toward this aim, we utilize the fly (Drosophila melanogaster) synapses due to their highly stereotypic, and well-characterized connections. Using the powerful genetics of the fly, we identify and characterize the molecular mechanisms of proteins that are involved in synapse development, function, and maintenance. Since synapse disruption is one the main reasons for memory deficits in many of the neurodegenerative diseases, the ultimate goal is to identify molecules that can be utilized as drug targets to provide a potential treatment toward these debilitating diseases.