Reinhard Jahn

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Dept Neurobiology, Max-Planck-Institute for Biophysical Chemistry, Germany


Synaptic Physiology and Plasticity

Title of the talk:
Molecular mechanisms of neurotransmitter release



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Scientific Career

1981 Dr. rer. nat (Biology) Univ. Göttingen, Germany
1981-1982 Postdoc, laboratory of H.D. Söling, Univ. Göttingen
1983-1985 Postdoc, Laboratory of P.Greengard, Rockefeller University, New York, USA
1985-1986 Assistant Professor, Rockefeller Univ., New York ,USA
1986-1991- Junior group leader, MPI for Psychiatry, Martinsried /Munich (Germany)
1991-1997 Associate (and since 1995 Full) Professor of Pharmacology and Cell Biology, Yale Univ. Sch. Med., New Haven (CT, USA), Assoc. Investigator, Howard Hughes Medical Institute
1997- Director, Dept. Neurobioloy, MPI for Biophysical Chemistry, Göttingen (Germany), Adjunct Professor, Univ. Göttingen (since 2001)


Awards and Honours (Selection)

Max-Planck Research Prize (1990), Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz Prize (2000), Ernst-Jung Prize for Medicine (2006), Sir Bernhard Katz Award of the Biophysical Society (USA) (2008), Science Prize, State of Lower Saxony (2010), Eduard Buchner Prize (2013), Heinrich Wieland Prize (2014)


Selected recent publications

Honigmann, A., van den Bogaart, G., Iraheta, E., Risselada, J.H., Milovanovic, D., Mueller, V., Muellar, S., Diederichsen, U., Fasshauer, D., Grubmüller, H., Hell, S.W., Eggeling, C., Kühnel, K., Jahn, R. (2013) Phosphatidylinositol 4,5-bisphosphate clusters act as molecular beacons for vesicle recruitment. Nature Struct. Mol. Biol. 20, 679-688
Hernandez, J.M., Stein, A., Behrmann, E., Riedel, D., Cypionka, A., Farsi, Z., Walla, P.J., Raunser, S., Jahn, R. (2012) Membrane fusion intermediates via directional and full assembly of the SNARE complex. Science, 336, 1581-1584
Jahn, R., Fasshauer, D. (2012) Molecular machines governing exocytosis of synaptic vesicles. Nature 490, 201-207 (review)
van den Bogaart G, Meyenberg K, Risselada JH, Amin H, Willig KI, Hubrich BE, Dier M, Hell SW, Grubmüller H, Diederichsen U, Jahn R (2011) Membrane protein sequestering by ionic protein-lipid interactions. Nature 23, 552-5
Van den Bogaart G, Thutupalli S, Risselada JH, Meyenberg K, Holt M, Riedel D, Diederichsen U, Herminghaus S, Grubmüller H, Jahn R (2011) Synaptotagmin-1 may be a distance regulator acting upstream of SNARE nucleation. Nat. Struct. Mol. Biol. 18, 805-812.
Stein A, Weber G, Wahl MC, Jahn R (2009) Helical extension of the neuronal SNARE complex into the membrane. Nature 460, 525-528.


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The group of Reinhard Jahn is interested in the mechanisms of membrane fusion, with the main emphasis on regulated exocytosis in neurons. Intracellular membrane fusion events are mediated by a set of conserved membrane proteins, termed SNAREs. For fusion to occur, complementary sets of SNAREs need to be present on both of the fusing membranes, which then assemble in a zipper-like fashion to initiate membrane merger. The neuronal SNAREs are among the best characterized. They are the targets of the toxins responsible for botulism and tetanus, and they are regulated by several addtional proteins including synaptotagmin, the calcium sensor for neurotransmitter release. To understand how these proteins mediate fusion, their properties are studied in vitro with biochemical and biophysical approaches using native and artificial membranes.
Furthermore, modern techniques such as quantitative proteomics are used to better understand supramolecular protein complexes involved in synaptic function. Using the quantitative description of synaptic vesicles as point of departure it is the aim to unravel presynaptic protein networks involved in synaptic vesicle docking and fusion. Particular attention is being paid to the regulation of presynaptic function by small GTPases and by protein phosphorylation. In addition, the mechanism of neurotransmitter uptake and storage are studied, focussing on the amino acid neurotransmitters glutamate and GABA.


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