The role of internal diffusion in vertebrate phototransduction
Diffusion of second messengers, such as Calcium ions and cyclic nucleotides is at the basis of major biological mechanisms. We are investigating the role of internal diffusion in rod photoreceptors by using spots of light with a diameter of 20-100 nm and recording the elicited photoresponse.
Sensory processing in the leech nervous system
The leech nervous system is composed by a chain of about 20 ganglia, each composed by approximately 700 neurons. By using newly developed voltage sensitive dyes we are investigating the parallel processing of sensory information in leech ganglia. From the obtained sequence of images it is possible to characterize the electrical activity of about 20-30 % of neurons in each ganglia.
Properties of cyclic nucleotide gated ionic channels
We are using site specific mutagenesis combined with patch clamp electrical recordings to characterize electrical properties of cyclic nucleotide gated channels, underlying sensory transduction in vertebrate photorecreptors and olfatory sensory neurons.
Single Molecule Force Spectroscopy of ionic channels in situ
The combination of Single Molecule Force Spectroscopy from membrane patches expressing specific ionic channels and site specific mutagenesis of theee channels allows the characterization of conformational changes of these ionic channels in situ. This analysis, when combined with molecular dynamical simulations, provides a novel view of the operation of ionic channels.
Molecular mechanisms of force generation in neuronal growth cones
We are using optical tweezers to characterize and measure the force generated by neuronal growth cones during development and maturation. The combination of this technique with conventinal histological methods allows the determination of molecular mechanisms of major biological events and the specific role of several proteins, such ads actin, tubulin.
Imaging of signal transduction in neuronal growth cones
By combining optical tweezers and advanced imaging methods, such as FRET, FRAP and STED we can obtain a precise charaterization of signal transduction in growth cones and of the action of guidance molecules.