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Research interests

Molecular Analysis of Eukaryotic Membrane Secretion The process of secretion (or exocytosis) involves the fusion of cargo-containing vesicles with the plasma membrane and is a fundamental property of all eukaryotic cells. In higher organisms this mechanism has evolved to provide the highly regulated release of neurotransmitters in the brain and hormones such as adrenaline and insulin. This process is targeted by many toxins, including clostridial neurotoxins, and is also deficient in a number of disease states. Our research is focused on understanding at the molecular level how this highly orchestrated process operates and what happens when this process goes wrong. 1. Spatial Organisation of the Fusion Machinery The process of membrane fusion is catalysed by the SNARE proteins. This highly conserved protein family mediates the fusion of membrane-bound compartments in all eukaryotic cells. These proteins have been proposed to provide the energy to drive membrane merger in the final steps of membrane fusion. In humans, regulated secretion occurs in highly specialised regions of cells, epitomised by the localised fusion of synaptic vesicles at the active zone of a synapse. We are investigating the spatial organisation of the SNARE fusion machinery from the whole cell to the single molecule level. To examine this we are using advanced optical bio-imaging techniques including the super-resolution PALM technique, which allows the observation of thousands of single proteins at the plasma membrane. By examining the SNAREs and other components of the release machinery (ion channels and accessory proteins) we aim to generate a molecular map of these proteins and uncover the determinants of their spatial organisation. Figure 1. Super-resolution microscopy of SNAREs. Standard resolution microscopy of the base of a secretory cell (left). The region highlighted is shown using the PALM technique revealing the position of individual SNARE proteins (right). 2. SNARE Protein Regulators In neuronal and neuroendocrine cells, the release of cargo is highly regulated. We are interested in how SNARE accessory proteins (synaptotagmin, complexin, munc18 NSF and small GTPases) can regulate this process from the single molecule to the system-wide level. We are investigating the role of these proteins both in vitro, using highly purified protein components, and also in a cellular environment using advanced microscopic techniques. Many of these investigations utilise Förster resonance energy transfer (FRET) to report with high spatial sensitivity changes in protein interactions and conformations. Through these studies we aim to uncover the impact of these accessory proteins on SNARE protein interactions and the process of membrane fusion. Figure 2. Model of SNARE and accessory protein interactions preceding membrane fusion.

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Research Output

  • 37 Article
  • 4 Conference contribution
  • 1 Chapter (peer-reviewed)

Fluorescence lifetime imaging of high-speed particles with single-photon image sensors

Gyongy, I., Green, A., Hutchings, S. W., Davies, A., Dutton, N. A. W., Duncan, R. R., Rickman, C., Henderson, R. K. & Dalgarno, P. A., 4 Mar 2019, High-Speed Biomedical Imaging and Spectroscopy IV. Tsia, K. K. & Goda, K. (eds.). SPIE, 108890O. (Proceedings of SPIE; vol. 10889).

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference contribution

  • Robust Super-Resolution via Deep Learning and TV Priors

    Vella, M., Rickman, C. & Mota, J. F. C., 15 May 2019, (Accepted/In press) Signal Processing with Adaptive Sparse Structured Representations (SPARS) workshop 2019.

    Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference contribution

    Open Access
    File

    A 256 x 256, 100-kfps, 61% Fill-Factor SPAD Image Sensor for Time-Resolved Microscopy Applications

    Gyongy, I., Calder, N., Davies, A., Dutton, N. A. W., Duncan, R. R., Rickman, C., Dalgarno, P. A. & Henderson, R. K., Feb 2018, In : IEEE Transactions on Electron Devices. 65, 2, p. 547-554 8 p.

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

    Open Access
    File
  • 523 Downloads (Pure)

    Cylindrical microlensing for enhanced collection efficiency of small pixel SPAD arrays in single-molecule localisation microscopy

    Gyongy, I., Davies, A., Gallinet, B., Dutton, N. A. W., Duncan, R. R., Rickman, C., Henderson, R. K. & Dalgarno, P. A., 5 Feb 2018, In : Optics Express. 26, 3, p. 2280-2291 12 p.

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

    Open Access
    File
  • 45 Downloads (Pure)

    High-speed particle tracking in microscopy using SPAD image sensors

    Gyongy, I., Davies, A., Miguelez Crespo, A., Green, A., Dutton, N. A. W., Duncan, R. R., Rickman, C., Henderson, R. K. & Dalgarno, P. A., 20 Feb 2018, High-Speed Biomedical Imaging and Spectroscopy III: Toward Big Data Instrumentation and Management. Tsia, K. K. & Goda, K. (eds.). Vol. 105050. 105050A. (Proceedings of SPIE; vol. 10505).

    Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference contribution

    Open Access
    File
  • 71 Downloads (Pure)

    Activities

    • 1 Publication peer-review

    Journal of Neurochemistry (Journal)

    Colin Rickman (Peer reviewer)
    1 Feb 2012

    Activity: Publication peer-review and editorial workPublication peer-review