Erik Jorgensen studies the molecular mechanisms of synaptic function. Genetic screens and characterization are performed in the nematode C. elegans and then validated in rodents. In addition, his laboratory is developing methods for optimizing genetic screens and manipulating the genome of the worm.
His laboratory dissects synaptic function in the simplest organism with a well-defined nervous system – the nematode Caenorhabditis elegans. The group identifies mutant worms with defects in synaptic proteins by forward genetic screens for worm mutants with behavioral defects or generates directed mutations in known synaptic genes. Then they use biochemistry, electrophysiology, fluorescence microscopy and electron microscopy to examine the role of the protein in the synapse from as many angles possible. Based on inferences from the mutant phenotype, they develop a hypothesis for how the protein functions. Predictions for structural variants are made from these models and tested in transgenic animals. These results can be used as a springboard for studies in other systems, linking biochemical models of protein function and studies of the vertebrate brain.
Work in the Jorgensen laboratory can be classified into four categories: neurotransmitters, exocytosis, endocytosis, and genome editing.
Erik M. Jorgensen Lecture I on Synaptic Transmission provided by iBiology February 7, 2017
Erik M. Jorgensen Lecture II on Recycling Synaptic Vesicles: Ultrafast Endocytosis provided by iBiology February 7, 2017