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Title: Illuminating cAMP dynamics at the synapse with multiphoton FLIM-FRET Imaging
Author: West, Lucien
ISNI:       0000 0004 5994 3548
Awarding Body: Imperial College London
Current Institution: Imperial College London
Date of Award: 2016
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The study of signalling pathways within mammalian physiology has long been hindered by the size of the players involved, being far beyond the realms of the conventional light microscope. The advent of advanced fluorescent imaging techniques has revolutionised our capabilities to probe biological processes. The work in this thesis particularly utilised Förster resonance energy transfer (FRET), a fluorescence-based technique that can provide functional readouts of the processes underlying cellular function. Specifically I worked to develop and optimise a fluorescence imaging system for investigating the dynamics and function of cyclic adenosine monophosphate (cAMP), a ubiquitous second messenger. The neuroscientific study of how the brain can learn and recall memories is a rapidly advancing field. The current challenges of tackling dementias, such as Alzheimer's disease, and preventing memory loss can only be addressed through better understanding of how memories can be stored. It is now believed that neurons retain memories within their synapses, the femtolitre structures that determine the strength of these connections. cAMP has been shown to play a distinctive role in orchestrating the retention of long term memory at the synaptic level. However, its spatial and temporal activation profiles are still not fully understood. To address this, my PhD project combined FRET readouts with cutting edge imaging techniques applied to synapses in neuronal cultures that provide reasonably convenient optical access. By examining the structure of these synapses, along with the measurement of cAMP concentration in different neuronal regions, this project uncovered the highly compartmentalised nature of this signalling molecule, seen to act directly at the sites of strengthening synapses. Through the optimisation of a FRET imaging system for studying activity in neuronal tissues, this project establishes a method for the future investigation of a plethora of pathways underlying the healthy functioning of the mammalian brain.
Supervisor: De Paola, Vincenzo ; French, Paul ; Dunsby, Christopher Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral