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Title: Molecular dissection of ionotropic glutamate receptor delta-family interactions with trans-synaptic proteins
Author: Clay, Jordan Elliott
Awarding Body: University of Oxford
Current Institution: University of Oxford
Date of Award: 2013
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Correct functioning of the brain relies upon the precise connectivity between the billions of neurons that make up this crucial organ. Aberrations in the formation of these elaborate neural networks lead to neurodegenerative and neuropsychiatric disorders. A synapse-spanning molecular triad, involving members of the Neurexin, Cbln and ionotropic glutamate receptor delta families of proteins, is crucial for the accurate formation and proper function of synapses in the cerebellum. This trans-synaptic complex has been implicated in the molecular mechanisms behind motor control and motor learning, and furthermore individual members have been linked to diseases such as Alzheimer’s, autism spectrum disorders and schizophrenia. The major findings presented in this thesis include: crystal structures of the amino-terminal domains (ATD) of the two members of the ionotropic glutamate receptor delta (iGluR-Delta) family, functional characterisation of the effects of disrupting the ATD interface in one member of the iGluR-Delta family, a crystal structure of the C1q domain of Cbln1, biophysical analysis of the molecular interactions within the Neurexin-Cbln1-GluD2 trans-synaptic complex, as well as evidence for the domain arrangement of the ecto-domain of the iGluR-Delta proteins. Together, these data enhance our knowledge of the molecular details of this macro-molecular complex and provide evidence to support models for the mechanisms of their involvement in synapse formation and function, thereby making a contribution to the vast and medically relevant field of molecular neurobiology.
Supervisor: Aricescu, Radu Sponsor: Medical Research Council
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: Biochemistry ; Molecular biophysics (biochemistry) ; Crystallography ; Membrane proteins ; Polymers Amino acid and peptide chemistry ; Protein chemistry ; X-ray crystallography ; trans-synaptic protein complexes