The human brain is the most complex processing system that we know of. However, the fundamental biological principles of how the trillions of diverse synaptic connections within the brain’s neural circuitry assemble and function together in a concerted manner to generate our experience of the world remain elusive.
The Sando Laboratory explores how the neural circuits in the mammalian brain are constructed by synaptic connections, and the function of these synapses in circuits. Synaptic input-specificity is a canonical feature of neural circuits and is essential for brain functions. We focus on investigating the modules of cell adhesion molecules and the networks of compartmentalized synaptic intracellular signal transduction cascades that underlie how distinct cell types in the brain collaborate to establish, maintain and modify synaptic circuits. These studies include examining the function of the enigmatic Adhesion-class G-protein coupled receptors (GPCRs), their extracellular interactions, and the intracellular signaling pathways they control in the brain. We interrogate fundamental principles of neuronal cell biology by utilizing interdisciplinary methodologies ranging from structural biology, electrophysiology, light/super-resolution microscopy, and in vivo analysis of animal models. Our goal is to elucidate mechanistic principles of mammalian brain development and function that will open new possibilities for the treatment of neurological disorders.