Role of lipid rafts in AMPA receptor trafficking and synaptic plasticity

Brain cells communicate with one another by releasing chemical transmitters, which bind to receptors on the surface of neighbouring cells and cause them to become excited (switched on). One of the most important transmitters is glutamate, which plays a key role in learning and memory. However, the presence of too much glutamate in the brain (such as during a stroke) can lead to brain cell death. Dr. Changiz Taghibiglou is studying how lipid structures on the surface of brain cells – known as rafts – affect how glutamate is transmitted between cells. Floating on the cell membrane, lipid rafts contain channels and receptors that transmit brain cell signals. By conducting experiments that alter the composition of lipid rafts, Changiz hopes to better understand the role of lipid rafts in glutamate transmission and suggest possible ways to modulate the function of glutamate receptors and prevent cell death.