Involvement of postsynaptic density proteins in synaptic specificity and spine formation

Neurons (brain cells) communicate with each other through a highly complex network of connections called synapses. Different types of synapses perform different roles. Abnormalities in these connections may be linked to psychiatric disorders including autism and schizophrenia. Joshua Levinson is investigating how neurons establish these contacts so consistently that virtually no errors occur despite their diversity. He is looking specifically at levels of particular proteins at the site of contact and how these levels affect the type of connection formed between neurons. He is also studying how these connections stabilize, which is critical for connections to form properly, and if proteins play a role in the stabilization process. The research could lead to a clearer understanding of the neurological abnormalities that underlie psychiatric diseases such as autism and schizophrenia, and contribute to more effective treatments.