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Mark M. Rasenick, PhD
Mark M. Rasenick, PhD
Distinguished UIC Professor

Physiology and Biophysics, and Psychiatry
Director, Biomedical Neuroscience Training Program

G protein signaling and the cytoskeleton. The synaptic biology of depression and antidepressants

Most of the work in my laboratory involves the possibility that a structural protein, tubulin, interacts, both physically and functionally, with Gsalpha, a G protein that conveys the actions of neurotransmitters like serotonin into the cellular interior. Association between these molecules allows neurotransmitters to modify the process of synapse formation by changing the shape of nerve cells. A variety of molecular techniques are being employed to elucidate this, many involving imaging in living cells. Intriguingly, we have also found that Gsalpha associates with tubulin on the membrane and it this association may modify the presence or absence of Gsalpha in cholesterol-rich domains known as lipid rafts. Lipid rafts inhibit the signaling of Gsalpha and in humans, they preferentially accumulate Gsalpha during depression. In contrast, treatment with antidepressants moves Gsalpha out of those rafts. This suggests that the degree of association of Gsalpha with lipid rafts may be a biological marker for depression and understanding the molecular basis of this process may hold clues to new approaches to treat depression.

G-Protein Signaling 4

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