Document Type

Open Access Thesis

Embargo Period


Degree Program

Neuroscience & Behavior

Degree Type

Master of Science (M.S.)

Year Degree Awarded


Month Degree Awarded



The purpose of this research is to advance development of a photochemical tool designed to probe the role of ionotropic glutamate receptor signaling in neurodegenerative processes, and to delve more deeply into the biological processes underlying the role of these receptors in signaling and memory formation. This ligand-targeted nanoprobe was designed and developed in our lab to label endogenous calcium-permeable AMPARs (CP-AMPARs) in live cells with minimal disruption to native receptor activity. Nanoprobe is designed to use naphthyl acetyl spermine (NASPM) as a photocleavable ligand to target and covalently label native CP-AMPARs with a non-perturbing, fluorescent marker that then allows observation of these receptors using standard epifluorescence microscopy. My contribution to this work, outlined in the aims below, is the characterization of nanoprobe using electrophysiology and fluorescent imaging to evaluate its effectiveness as an endogenous CP-AMPAR label on live neurons.

Aim 1: To use whole cell patch clamp electrophysiology to test the labeling of CP-AMPARs with nanoprobe by recording changes in glutamate-evoked current through heterologously expressed GluA1-L497Y homomultimers during, pre- and post- nanoprobe labeling.

Aim 2: To use fluorescent imaging to evaluate nanoprobe labeling of glutamate receptors endogenously expressed in hippocampal neurons by co-labeling nanoprobe-treated neurons with traditional antibodies to AMPAR and synaptic targets.

Aim 3: To use nanoprobe to detect endogenously expressed CP-AMPARs on live neurons during the course of neuron development. Live neuronal cultures will be imaged before and after labeling with nanoprobe in young dissociated cultures (DIV 1-2) and in maturing cultures (DIV 14-17).

Conclusions: Whole cell patch clamp electrophysiology results provide evidence that nanoprobe will label CP-AMPARs in a minimally-perturbing fashion that allows the receptors to resume normal activity after photolytic-release of ligand as designed. Fixed cell imaging of CP-AMPAR nanoprobe labeling was largely ineffective, and live cell imaging was not conclusive, but provided supporting evidence that nanoprobe targets and labels NASPM-sensitive endogenous glutamate receptors on live dissociated hippocampal neurons

First Advisor

James J Chambers

Second Advisor

Gerald B Downes

Third Advisor

Jerrold S Meyer

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