AIAS-COFUND Marie Curie Fellowships awarded to Magnus Kjærgaard
Magnus Kjærgaard from Poul Nissen’s group has been awarded the Aarhus Institute of Advanced Studies (AIAS) AIAS-COFUND Marie Curie Fellowship, which will fund his research for 3 years from February 2016. In his research he will use single molecule fluorescence techniques and NMR spectroscopy to study the structural dynamics the intra-cellular domains of glutamate receptors. This will contribute to our understanding of how these proteins are involved in learning and memory.
Description of Magnus Kjærgaard's research:
Learning and memory depends on the ability to modulate the connections between neurons in the brain in a process called synaptic plasticity. An important mechanism in synaptic plasticity involves the proteins sensing chemical signals at synapses, neurotransmitter receptors. The NMDA receptor is a neurotransmitter receptor with a key role in learning, which depends on its large intracellular domains. The intracellular domains are intrinsically disordered, are the target of many kinases and bind to many other proteins. Despite its importance, we know little about how the intracellular domains regulate the receptor mechanistically, and little about how intrinsically disordered proteins can exert long-range regulatory effects in general. This is largely due to the almost complete lack of structural information on the intra-cellular domains. In this project, I will study the intracellular domains of the NMDA receptor using a combination of NMR spectroscopy and single molecule FRET. The goal is to identify the mechanism by which the intra-cellular domains affect synaptic plasticity, and how this effect is modulated by phosphorylations and ligand interactions. This will provide another piece of the enigma of how the many wonderful functions of the brain emerge from chemical and physical processes.