Molecular Neurobiology

Group 43
Leader: István Katona

Synaptic junctions are major sites of communication in the brain, where chemical messenger molecules transmit information from presynaptic neurons to their postsynaptic partners. The efficacy of synaptic transmission is not constant in time and space. Instead, its plasticity is a fundamental phenomenon underlying information storage, learning and adaptation to environmental stimuli. Although classical neurotransmitters (such as glutamate and GABA) have well characterized principal roles in mediating basal neurotransmission, emerging evidence has revealed that synapses exploit a plethora of additional messenger molecules integrated into sophisticated signaling pathways to accomplish their complex functions. Thus, the major objective of our laboratory is to identify new signaling systems regulating synaptic transmission and its plasticity. We aspire to delineate the molecular architecture of these novel pathways, such as the endocannabinoid signaling pathway and to elucidate their physiological roles. To achieve these goals, the laboratory employs a combination of techniques, including STORM superresolution imaging, confocal and electron microscopy, single mRNA tissue in situ hybridization, paired patch-clamp recordings. Ultimately, this activity is envisaged to help gain a better understanding of synaptic function and reveal new aspects of impaired synaptic activity in brain disorders.

Excerpt from the Guidebook of the Institute 2015.

Current research projects are funded by the National Research, Development and Innovation Office Frontline Research Excellence Programme (Nanoscale molecular diversity and neuropsychiatric significance of canonical and non-canonical forms of cannabinoid signaling), by the Hungarian Brain Program (The role of GPR12 receptor in neural plasticity processe), and by the National Institute of Health (Cannabinoid control of epilepsy; Mechanisms underlying radiation and chemotherapy induced cognitive impairment; Neurodevelopmental effects of THC on the VTA dopamine system and behavior).

Group webpage:

Lab members:

Gyula BallaAssistant Research Fellow
Benjámin BartiAssistant Research Fellow
Eszter HorváthSenior Research Fellow
István KatonaScientific Advisor, Group Leader, Head of Department
Kata KeneseiResearch Fellow
Máté KisfaliResearch Fellow
Zsófia LászlóAssistant Research Fellow
Zsolt LeleSenior Research Fellow
Vivien MiczánAssistant Research Fellow
Balázs PintérLaboratory Manager
Prokop SusannePh.D. Student
Erika TischlerTechnician
Márton VámosiUndergraduate Student
Miklós ZöldiPh.D. Student