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Magnus Kjærgaard

Area of expertise: Neurotransmitter receptors and dynamic protein interactions in memory

Memory depends on lasting changes in the structure of our brain caused by our experiences. These changes have been tracked to activity-dependent modification of synapses, which form the communication interface between neurons. Synapses grow when they are stimulated the right way and become more sensitive. Our lab investigates the mechanisms that connect strengthening of synapses to biochemical activity induced by synaptic stimulation.

Glutamate receptors are key determinants of the sensitivity of synapses as they sense a common neurotransmitter. These receptors are ligand-gated ion channels that open following neuronal stimulation. In addition to the ion channel, they contain a large intracellular domain. These domains are likely intrinsically disordered meaning that they do not have a fixed tertiary structure. These domains affect the ion channel and the recruitment of receptors to the synapse. It is not clear how this occurs mechanistically. Our lab currently study the intracellular domains of glutamate receptors focusing on their interactions with scaffolding proteins and signalling enzymes.

In our research, we have come across phenomena that could be applied in biotechnology and medicine. We are currently exploring whether membrane-less organelles formed by intrinsically disordered proteins can be used in biotechnology. We are also interested in developing new methods for pharmaceutical intervention based on multivalent protein drugs.

Our group uses a broad range of biophysical and biochemical techniques. Generally, our philosophy is to use the best possible technique for the question at hand – even if it means moving out of our comfort zone. Currently most of our projects study intrinsically disordered proteins, so we use methods appropriate for dynamic molecules including NMR spectroscopy and single-molecule fluorescence spectroscopy. 


Magnus Kjærgaard is Team Leader at DANDRITE and assistant professor at the Department of Molecular Biology and Genetics (MBG). Magnus Kjærgaard is one of six co-PIs in the Center of Excellence “PROMEMO – Proteins in Memory” and is further supported by grants from the Villum and Lundbeck Foundations. The lab is situated in the Research Park at Gustav Wieds Vej 10.


2019.09.10 | News from the management

Congratulations to Xavier Louis Camille A Warnet who has been appointed Postdoc in Kjærgaard team

Xavier will investigate the interaction between NMDA receptors C-terminal domains and PSD-95, a major interaction pair regarding memory formation and long-term potentiation. They have in the team demonstrated that these two proteins, aside of the canonical PDZ-mediated interaction, form biomolecular condensates through liquid-liquid phase…

2019.09.10 | MagnusKjærgaard

Congratulations to Magnus Kjærgaard who has been rewarded Villum Experiment grant on two million DKK

The board of VILLUM FONDEN has decided to reward Magnus Kjærgaard and his team a prestigious grant. See the announcement of the grant on their website by following the link.

Forskningens Døgn 2019

2019.05.02 | MagnusKjærgaard

Magnus Kjaergaard featured in reportage during The Festival of Research

During The Festival of Research, Team Leader Magnus Kjaergaard was a part of the "Book a Researcher" programme, where institutions can book a researcher to give a talk for free. A journalist from the University news paper Omnibus followed him during one of the talks and did a reportage on the experience.

2019.02.20 | People

Welcome to new student Emily Pheasant in Team Leader Magnus Kjærgaard's group

Emily Carlsen Pheasant is a new master student in Team Leader Magnus Kjærgaard’s research group per start February 2019. She will study the phosphorylation-dependent interaction between NMDA receptor 2B and postsynaptic density proteins to characterize the role of activity dependent-kinases in the trafficking of the NMDA receptor to the…

Cover photo by Mateusz Dyla

2018.12.07 | Research news

Magnus Kjærgaard and Mateusz Dyla is featured in this month’s issue of the magazine “Dansk Kemi” (Danish Chemistry)

The title of the article is ”Naturens nanopumper fanget på film” and describes the findings of last year’s publication: ‘Dynamics of P-type ATPase transport revealed by single-molecule FRET’ that was published on 8 November 2017 in Nature.

2018.06.21 | People

Inga Sass is new Master Student in Kjærgaard's team

Inga Saß is a new Master student in Magnus Kjaergaard’s group as of 4 June and for the following 8 months. Inga joins us from the University of Lübeck, Germany, and will focus on two subunits of glutamate receptors crucial for synaptic communication and memory formation. The aim is to study lipid interactions and structural dynamics of the…

2018.04.03 | Research news

Official Inauguration of PROMEMO on 4 April 2018

The official inauguration of PROMEMO - Center for Proteins in Memory - a Danish National Research Foundation Center of Excellence will take place on 4 April 2018. The research center PROMEMO started on 1 December 2017 and aims to identify and understand the function of memory associated proteins that determines the persistence of a memory.

2018.03.05 | PoulNissen

New laboratory technician at DANDRITE

Tanja Klymchuk is now affiliated as shared laboratory technician at DANDRITE, sharing her time between the group's of Poul Nissen, Hanne Poulsen, Magnus Kjærgaard, Thomas Boesen, and Assoc. prof. Bjørn Pedersen at the Dept. Molecular Biology and Genetics. Tanja will, together with technician Anna Marie Nielsen, take over some of the duties and…

2018.01.17 | Awards

Sara Basse receives a PhD Fellowship from the Boehringer Ingelheim Fonds

The stipend will continue Sara's PhD studies with Magnus Kjærgaard and Poul Nissen. She will investigate the structural and mechanistic basis of unidirectional calcium transport through direct visualization by single-molecule FRET and FRET-guided crystallization of key intermediates, and she will establish techniques for…

(Photo: Mateusz Dyla)

2017.11.09 | PoulNissen

Poul Nissen, Mateusz Dyla and Magnus Kjærgaard publish article in the leading journal Nature

The article ‘Dynamics of P-type ATPase transport revealed by single-molecule FRET’ was published yesterday on 8 November 2017. Our cells are capable of moving energy and material around to the places where they are required, and ensuring that the body works properly. But how do the cells do this in real time from the perspective of the…

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