Prof Dr. Emilio Carbone [>>]

L-VGCCs in synaptic transmitter release and hormone secretion

University of Torino, Italy

The team belongs to the Department of Neuroscience of Torino University and has consolidated experience in the physiology and biophysics of cell excitability, voltage-gated Ca2+ channels, Ca2+ channel-secretion coupling and central neurons synaptic activity with particular interest in:

i) Ca2+ channel permeability and gating,
ii) expression, distribution and role of voltage-gated Ca2+ channels at the somatic and presynaptic terminals,
iii) role of neurotrophic factors on synaptic plasticity through the recruitment of voltage-gated Ca2+ channels,
iv) role of Ca2+ channels in the regulation of Ca2+-secretion coupling in neuroendocrine cells.

Most of the studies are pursued by means of the patch-clamp technique in all its configurations (whole-cell, cell-attached, perforated-patch, capacitance) combined with amperometric recordings. In the specific field of Ca2+ channel functioning and neuronal excitability the group has made important contributions concerning:

i) the gating properties of T-type Ca2+ channels,
ii) the molecular basis of single Ca2+ channel inhibition by membrane receptors,
iii) the direct and remote modulation of neuroendocrine L-type channels,
iv) Ca2+ channel modulation and related exocytosis.

For the present project, the team will focus on the role that voltage-gated L-type channels (Cav1.2 and Cav1.3) play in the control of neurotransmitter release and hormone secretion in hippocampal neurons and chromaffin cells of the adrenal gland.

Research training represents a major component of the team's activity. The members are permanent staff of a PhD program on Neuroscience at the University of Torino and furnish a continuous up-to-date training on the electrophysiology, biophysics and pharmacology of voltage-gated Ca2+ channels and Ca2+ channel-secretion coupling. Training is provided in all the modern methodologies employed in these areas (action potential and patch-clamp recordings, whole-cell and single channel measurements, miniature and evoked postsynaptic recordings, capacitative changes and amperometric signal detection). Over 30 biology, physics, pharmacy, chemistry and PhD students have completed their research projects at the unit in recent years. Training of young researchers is monitored on a regular basis by daily discussions, lab reports and journal clubs. Special emphasis is given to public speaking and scientific writing.

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