Synaptic signalling

We are young and international researchers recently appointed as an AG and with the name Neuronal and Synaptic Signals at the LIN in Magdeburg. Our group is formed by PhD and Master Students from India, Turkey, Germany, and China and additionally, we are permanently visited by Students from Croatia and Chile. We also collaborate with the Caltech in California, the John Hopkins Hospital in Baltimore and Princeton University in New Jersey in USA.

We investigate molecules with the power of generating signals with information for the working of neuronal cells in the brain. These molecular signals can be generated by neurons or by other different surrounding cells called Glia. The main topic of our research is the study of Neuroplastin, a protein which is present in the plasma membrane of all neurons in the brain.

In our daily work, we employed a number of molecular, biochemical, cellular and molecular approaches. Particularly interesting to us is the use of biosensors for signalling pathways and ions coupled to advanced microscopy techniques such as FRET, super resolution STED or quantal resolution FLIM.

  • Head


    Rodrigo obtained his BSc and MSc in biochemistry from Universidad de Chile. In his work of ungraduated thesis, he discovered that a soluble molecule is released by neurons to modulate inflammatory responses of Astrocytes and Microglia related to Alzheimer’s disease progression. Next, he did his PhD in Biomedicine at Universidad de Chile, studying cell-cell contact signals operating between neurons and astrocytes during inflammatory processes that promote neuronal lost. All Rodrigo’s discoveries have not only initiated independent research topics in his former labs in Chile, but they have been internationally confirmed by a number of publications from several independent researchers. For his work in Chile, Rodrigo received several travels grants, fellowships and prices from both National and International agencies.

    By the end of 2011, after obtained a grant from the German DAAD, Rodrigo moved to LIN in Magdeburg. He was a postdoctoral fellow mentored by Eckart Gundelfinger, Constanze Seidenbecher and Karl-Heinz Smalla. Since then, he has been studying the cell adhesion molecule Neuroplastin in neurons.

    In 2016, the collaborative work with Dirk Montag in Neuroplastin was prized with the Hugo-Junkers-Preis für Forschung und Innovation aus Sachsen-Anhalt (2nd place). Since 2018, Rodrigo started his own research lab Neuronal and Synaptic Signals at the LIN.

  • Members


    Dr. Rodrigo
    PhD students  
    Benedikt Auer  
  • Projects


    Signals to make synapses
    In this project we study how the plasma membrane molecule neuroplastin is able to generate a message to build synapses. In particular, we have found that neuroplastin recruits and binds a cytosolic factor called TRAF6 to initiate synaptogenesis in young neurons.

    Neuronal Signaling from nanodomains
    Here, we focus nanoscopic domains of the plasma membrane of neurons called lipid rafts. Specially, we study how raft-associated proteins and lipids interact with each to generate signals to modified neuronal function and gene expression.

    Calcium-stasis and synapse plasticity
    We are also interested on understanding handling processes of the ion calcium which is very important for function and plasticity of synapses. We look at different neuronal mechanisms involving in the buffering, realize and transport trough the cell membranes of calcium.

  • Current Third Party Funds

    Current Third Party Funds

    Associated Investigator
    CSF grant (IP-2016-06-8636)
    “NeuroReact project”


  • Hugo Junkers Award

    Hugo Junkers Award

    Hugo-Junkers Award 2016: Dirk Montag (l.) and Rodrigo Herrera-Molina (r.) win 2nd place in the category "Most Innovative Projects in Basic Research" for their neuroplastin research.


  • Our activities

    Our activities

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