I am from Ahmedabad,
Gujarat, the western-most state of India. I obtained my Master's
in Biochemistry from Gujarat
University. I will be starting my 4th year as a graduate student
Cooper's Lab. One focus of the lab is studying synaptic transmission
using the model organisms, crayfish and flies (Drosophila melanogaster).
My project focuses on the role of calcium in synaptic transmission in
crayfish. I study the influence of the Na+/Ca2+ exchanger [NCX] during
short-term facilitation on motor nerve terminals in crayfish.
At many neuromuscular junctions (NMJs) the amount of neurotransmitter
released in response to a nerve stimulus may be increased by previous
impulses. This is known as facilitation. After a nerve is stimulated
again within a few hundred milliseconds of a previous impulse there
is a growth of the synaptic potential. This is known as short-term facilitation
(STF). The exchanger extrudes Ca2+ out in exchange of Na+. It prevents
the build up of Ca2+ inside the nerve terminal regulating the Ca2+ concentration
to maintain normal vesicle fusion and transmitter release. To determine
the role of the NCX in crayfish motor nerve terminals and its influence
on short-term facilitation and quantal release, I compromise its function
in vivo by reducing the driving gradient of the exchanger. I also plan
to study the difference in roles of the NCX in the differential responses
of facilitation between the phasic and tonic nerve terminals in the
crayfish during synaptic transmission. And to see if similar physiologic
profiles are present in Drosophila NMJs as for the crayfish NMJs in
regards to the actions of NCX on synaptic transmission.
I have also recently started studying the regulation of calcium in the
Drosophila larval heart. I am looking at the different ion channels
namely the SERCA, the PMCA and the NCX in regulation of calcium and
its effects on larval heart rate.