University of Leeds Logo
Rene Frank Group
In situ molecular structures of the brain

The brain is composed of many millions of neurons, that are connected into elaborate circuits. The connections between neurons are made by synapses, of which there are over 100 trillion in the human brain. Synapses receive, process, and transmit signals from one neuron to another. These central brain functions are performed in each synapse by the coordinated activity of a few hundred to several thousand molecular machines that include ion channel supercomplexes.

Whenever a synapse receives a signal, molecular machines are activated that transmit the signal. They also retain a record of the passing signal. The recorded signals in synapses are thought to be the basis on which the brain is able to encode and store information, including the memories of events in our lives. Exactly how memories are encoded in synapses is currently unclear.

The Frank group is interested in how molecular machines are self-organised and how synapses are structurally remodelled in response to activity with the aim of understanding how memory is encoded in the mammalian brain.

In neurological diseases, including Alzheimer's disease, synapses are damaged, which is correlated with cognitive decline. We are interested in the pathological molecular mechanisms of synapse damage in AD and how synaptic insults in AD are linked to Abeta and tau pathologies.

We are using genetically engineered mice, cryo-electron microscopy to determine 3D molecular structures that explain how molecular machines are organised in situ and the molecular mechanisms responsible for physiological function and pathological dysfunction in the mammalian brain.
Rene Frank Group
Astbury Centre of Structural Molecular Biology
School of Biomedical Sciences,
Faculty of Biological Sciences

University of Leeds
United Kingdom
LS2 9 JT


     © 2018 University of Leeds, Leeds, LS2 9JT    Privacy and cookies           Freedom of Information