Reza Vafabakhsh Development of methods for quantitative hierarchical characterization of synaptic players at different length scales

Research Interests

The brain is made of billions of neurons that are interconnected by synapses. Each synapse is made up of more than a thousand different proteins, that exist at a wide range of copy numbers, from just a few to thousands, and confined to a volume of micrometer in length scale. Structure-function studies provide insights into how proteins function individually; however, it has remained a major challenge to understand how synaptic biomolecules organize spatially and temporally into networks and give rise to emergence of new physiological properties and eventually adapt synaptic functions to specific inter-neuronal activities. A long-term goal of my lab is to develop methods for quantitative hierarchical characterization of synaptic players at different length scales, from a single protein to the synapse level, to describe this complexity and, maybe eventually, the molecular nature of information processing in the brain. Such knowledge is fundamental for understanding normal brain functions and neurological disorders. We will do so by using a highly interdisciplinary cell biology analyses along with cutting edge single molecule and high throughput approaches that draw from physics, cell biology and engineering.

Selected Publications

Conformational fingerprinting of allosteric modulators in metabotropic glutamate receptor 2. Liauw BW, Foroutan A, Schamber MR, Lu W, Afsari HS, and Vafabakhsh R. eLife. 2022 July 1;11:e78982.

Mechanism of sensitivity modulation in the calcium-sensing receptor via electrostatic tuning. Schamber MR and Vafabakhsh R. Nature Communications. 2022 April 22;13:2194.

Conformational rearrangement during activation of a metabotropic glutamate receptor. Liauw BW, Afsari HS, and Vafabakhsh R. Nature Chemical Biology. 2021 January 4;17(3):291-297.

Conformational dynamics of a class C G-protein-coupled receptorVafabakhsh R, Levitz J, and Isacoff EY. Nature. 2015 August 27;524(7566):497-501.

Extreme Bendability of DNA Less than 100 Base Pairs Long Revealed by Single-Molecule Cyclization. Vafabakhsh R and Ha T. Science. 2012 August 31;337(6098):1097-1101.

View all publications by Reza Vafabakhsh in the National Library of Medicine (PubMed). Current and former IBiS students in blue.