Graduate Student

Contact Information:
E-mail: Mohati dot Desai at uky dot edu
Phone: 859-257-5950
Fax: 859-257-1717

675 Rose St.
University of Kentucky
Lexington, KY 40506

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 in Dr. 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.



Papers and Abstracts