Molecular physiology of the synapse

Rafael Fernández Chacón
Rafael Fernández Chacón
Campus Hospital Universitario Virgen del Rocío
Avda. Manuel Siurot, s/n.
41013 · Sevilla

Laboratory: 108

Rafael Fernández Chacón

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  1. Group members
  2. Research areas
  3. Publications

Group: Molecular physiology of the synapse

Group members Molecular physiology of the synapse
  • Arroyo Saborido, Alejandro.Laboratory Technician (FP2). Technician.
  • Cabrera Romero, Casandra.Técnico de Laboratorio
  • Fernández Chacón, Rafael.Professor of Physiology
  • García-Junco Clemente, Pablo.Doctor en Biología. Postdoctoral.
  • Gómez Sánchez, Leonardo.Degree in Biology. PhD student.
  • Jurado Galán, Noemí.Técnico Superior Anatomía Patológica
  • Lavado Roldán, Ángela.Degree in Biology. PhD student.
  • López Begines, Santiago.Investigador Postdoctoral. CIBERNED.
  • Martínez López, José Antonio.Telecommunications Engineer. PhD student.
  • Martínez Marquez, Emilio.Investigador Predoctoral
  • Mesa Cruz , Cristina.Investigadora Predoctoral
  • Muñoz Bravo, José Luis.Ldo. en Biología
  • Nieto González, José Luis.PhD in Biology. Post-doctoral fellow Juan de la Cierva.
  • Reyes León, Santiago.Técnico de Apoyo, Graduado en Biología
  • Rivero Mena, María del Carmen.Laboratory Technician (FP2). Technician.
  • Rubio Pastor, Fátima.Investigadora Predoctoral FPU
  • Sanchez Diaz, Carmen.Investigadora Predoctoral FPU

Research areas

Molecular mechanisms of the functional and structural maintenance of the synapse.

The synapses are the points of contact where neuronal communication takes place that underlies the correct operation of the brain. The nerve endings house synaptic vesicles loaded with neurotransmitters that are released after the arrival of a nerve impulse. This phenomenon can occur thousands of times a day in terminals that are very remote from the neuronal body, as in the case of motor neurones. The nerve endings probably have molecular machinery that allows them to maintain synaptic function independently of the neuronal body. Our laboratory is interested in identifying the components of this machinery and in understanding their mode of operation. A key element is a protein of the synaptic vesicles called Cysteine String Protein-alpha (CSP-alpha). This protein is related to molecular chaperones that participate in the folding and unfolding of proteins. Strangely, genetically modified mice that lack this protein display a neurological phenotype produced by an early degeneration of their nerve endings. Our laboratory uses cultivated neurons from these mice, that form synapses "in vitro" and we study the details of the neuronal communication by means of electro-physiological techniques. In collaboration with the Center of Animal Production and Experimentation of the University of Seville, we have generated transgenic mice that express a green fluorescent protein (synaptopHluorin) that illuminates the nerve endings during synaptic activity. These approaches will be used to understand the functional modifications of the synapse that precede the neurodegeneration of the neurons of the central and peripheral nervous system.