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Date: Tuesday, October 21, 2014
Time: 11:00 am
Speaker: Axel Brunger, Department of Molecular and Cellular Physiology, Stanford University, HHMI
Title: Molecular Mechanisms of Neurotransmitter Release
Location: 67-3111 Chemla Room


The central nervous system relies on electrical signals traveling along neurons and through synapses at high speeds. Signals often have to pass between two neurons, or from a neuron to a muscle fiber, and the nervous system relies on a process called membrane fusion to ensure that the neurotransmitter molecules that carry the signal across the synapses are released as quickly as possible. Membrane fusion is an important process in many areas of biology, including intracellular transport and fertilization, but it occurs much faster (milliseconds) in the nervous system than anywhere else in the body. Moreover, it is precisely calcium regulated. The molecular mechanism that underlies this fast, regulated process has long been a mystery. Recent structural and biophysical studies of the protein machinery for synaptic vesicle fusion will be presented.