Grants awarded

Principles of synapse-astrocyte networking in the brain


Prof Dmitri Rusakov

University College London

United Kingdom

Astroglia, which have long been considered auxiliary brain cells, have emerged as active contributors to the neural circuit operation in health and disease. While important aspects of synapse-astroglia signalling are being revealed, the underlying principles are poorly understood and it is unclear whether this signal exchange system adapts to the changes associated with learning and memory.

We will establish the causality of cellular mechanisms engaging astroglia in brain circuit operation. We will use a multidisciplinary experimental strategy, ex vivo and in vivo, to establish rules that shape functional identities and cooperation among synapses on individual axonal circuits, and to determine how these presynaptic identities are influenced and remodelled by the astrocytes they trespass. We will use computational models to translate our findings into theoretical principles.

This study will contribute to the knowledge underpinning the contribution of astroglia to information handling by the brain.