Prof. N. Nadif Kasri (Nael)
Principal Investigator - Donders Center of Medical Neurosciences
Principal Investigator - Donders Institute for Brain, Cognition and Behaviour
Professor - Faculty of Medical Sciences (Radboudumc)
The general interest of my research group is to understand the underlying molecular events, leading to changes in synaptic structure and function and how these changes relate to learning and memory. As a molecular entry point for this research we focus on the functional characterization of genes associated with intellectual disability (ID), a disease characterized by synaptic deficits (synaptopathy). Great progress has been made over recent years towards the identification of ID genes, resulting in a list of more than 400 genes. A largely remaining challenge, however, is to connect the genetic causes of ID to processes that establish and/or modify neuronal circuit function. Because learning deficit is a constant feature of ID patients, it is tempting to attribute some of ID traits to alterations in synaptic structure and function (synaptopathy). Our current efforts are geared towards understanding how synaptic properties are acquired and change during development. To this end we are investigating the role Rho GTPase signaling and chromatin remodeling pathways (epigenetics). To gain insight into these pathways we take a multidisciplinary approach that includes: (i) electrophysiological assessment of synaptic transmission (ii) two-photon imaging of neuronal structures (iii) manipulation of proteins of interest in subsets of neurons and (iv) molecular biology techniques to characterize proteins that regulate synaptic development and are involved in cognitive disorders.