Meyer Jackson

Position title: The Kenneth S Cole Professor of Neuroscience Ph.D., 1977, Yale University


Phone: Phone: (608) 262-9111 | Lab: (608) 262-9112 | Fax: (608) 265-7821

RESEARCH INTERESTS - Studies of synaptic mechanisms at the molecular, cellular, and circuit levels

Meyer Jackson

Postdoctoral Fellow position available (click here)

Students interested in graduate study can apply to the following Ph.D programs:
Program in Biophysics
Neuroscience Training Program
Molecular and Cellular Pharmacology Program

Synaptic transmission is central to virtually everything the nervous system does. Our research focuses broadly on synaptic transmission in mammalian systems. We study synapses from the molecular to the circuit level using electrophysiological and imaging techniques.

At the molecular level our major focus is synaptic release and Ca2+-triggered exocytosis. Exocytosis begins with the formation of a fusion pore connecting the vesicle interior with the outside of a cell (Figure 1). A fusion pore spans both the vesicle and plasma membranes and in many ways behaves like an ion channel. We have adapted the classical ideas of ion channels to the study of fusion pores. In endocrine cells we measure the flux through single fusion pores with amperometry, and used these measurements to determine how proteins such as synaptotagmin and SNAREs drive membrane fusion. We have extended the concept of the fusion pore from endocrine cells to synapses by recording miniature synaptic currents in cultured neurons. Experiments with these methods have indicated which proteins form the fusion pore, and which proteins control their dynamic transitions. We are developing HEK cells expressing synaptic proteins as a system for assessing synaptic release from neurons derived from iPSCs.

Figure 1. Catecholamine flux from a single vesicle in an endocrine cells reports three successive stages in exocytosis. The SNARE proteins, which play an essential role in exocytosis, are shown in different hypothetical configurations.

To relate what we learn about synapses at the molecular level to neural circuit function we image electrical activity. We can express voltage sensors in a variety of genetically defined types of neurons as well as in neurons activated by experience. Imaging from these defined populations of neurons is revealing the fundamental organization of neural circuitry. Our current focus is the dentate gyrus and somatosensory cortex, but this powerful approach can be applied to virtually any cell type and brain region.


Figure 2. Parvalbumin interneurons expressing a genetically-encoded voltage sensor in a slice of somatosensory cortex. The red traces are a sequence of depolarizations in different cells. The heatmaps illustrate the spread of depolarization through the slice. These data were used to determine conduction velocity in different directions and layers.

Full list of publications can be found here.