Microscopic Anatomy and Structural Biology
- Nicotinic acetylcholine receptor
- Cryo-electron tomography
- Subtomogram averaging
- Image processing
Neurons communicate at specialized neuron-neuron contacts : the synapse. There, small membrane spheres, called synaptic vesicles, which are contained in one of the neurons, fuse with the cell membrane of this neuron by a process termed exocytosis. Thereby, the chemicals contained in the vesicles are released out this neuron and can be detected by the second neuron. The latter neuron can then integrate this chemical message with messages coming from hundreds of other neurons. The molecular mechanism of exocytosis has not yet been described in detail. We therefore want to visualize and understand this process using cryo-electron microscopy and cryo-electron tomography. The investigations will clarify open questions about exocytosis in neurons and lead to a better understanding of brain function.