Understanding learning and memory at the single-synapse scale

by dr. Marco Mainardi, Istituto di Neuroscienze, Consiglio Nazionale delle Ricerche – Pisa

When: March 24th, 2022 – 3:00 pm

Where: Zoom meeting. Recording available on Mediaspace

Abstract: Plasticity of synaptic connections adjusts the signal flow across neural circuits to
support the acquisition and storage of information. Dendritic spines host most excitatory
synapses in the brain and incessantly remodel to meet the computational demands for
acquisition or recall of new episodic memories, or goal-oriented behavioral schemes.

Despite the obvious physiological importance of synaptic plasticity and its implications in
pathological contexts, appropriate tools for the specific analysis of potentiated synapses
are scarce. To fulfill this gap, Dr Mainardi has contributed to the creation of genetically
encoded tools allowing the expression of virtually every protein of interest specifically at
potentiated dendritic spines. This system has been applied to express (i) fluorescent
reporters and obtain maps of the distribution of potentiated dendritic spines along the
dendritic tree of hippocampal neurons or (ii) a FLAG-tagged version of the PSD-95
postsynaptic hub protein and isolate its potentiation-specific interactome. These data
provide a first cartography and molecular fingerprinting of synaptic potentiation triggered
by a specific learning task, in addition to paving the way for further studies in models of
neurological diseases characterized by impaired learning and memory.