Mark E. Bowen
Biochemistry and Cell Biology
Stony Brook University
United States of America
Mark E. Bowen joined as Professor of Department of Biochemistry and Cell Biology,The Stony Brook University School of Medicine.
My lab studies the role of Intrinsically Disordered Proteins (IDPs)in glutamate signaling at the neuronal synapse. Glutamatergic synapses, those using glutamate as a neurotransmitter, are a critical component of the neuronal circuits governing higher brain functions like learning, memory and emotion. Dysfunctional glutamatergic synapses mediate or exacerbate numerous psychiatric diseases. A key to understanding how cells glutamate signals are processed is a description of how protein interactions change in response to synaptic activity. Many of these interactions involve IDPs, which are predicted to be unstructured. This presents a challenge to the current dogma that protein structure defines function. Our primary approach uses flourescence microscopy to image at the level of single molecules. This allows us to follow the composition, structure and dynamics of individual proteins and complexes involving synaptic IDPs. Single molecule methodology is well suited to clarify the dynamic assembly of multiprotein complexes that govern the synapse. We are developing imaging methodology for protein structure determination to allow previously intractable complexes to be characterized. To complement our in vitro studies, we are turning our microscopes towards live cell imaging of genetically-encoded fluorescent proteins in cell lines and primary neurons which will allow the study of these proteins in vivo.