Research Group Presynaptic Plasticity

The function of our brains is based on information transmission, processing and storage by neuronal networks, which are composed of billions neuronal cells, neurons. These neurons communicate with each other at specialized contact sites named synapses. Here the incoming electric signal induces a release of neurotransmitter from the upstream cell, which can be detected and converted in an electrical signal in the downstream cell. The synaptic signal transmission is highly elaborate and precisely regulated process and any disturbance of it leads to brain malfunctions such as epilepsy and neuropsychiatric or neurodegenerative diseases. The usage-dependent modification in the synaptic transmission – referred to as synaptic plasticity – resembles one crucial cellular mechanism for learning and memory formation.

The Research group Presynaptic Plasticity investigates the molecular mechanisms of presynaptic function and dysfunction. In the presynaptic bouton, complex molecular machinery works in a precisely orchestrated manner to ensure fast and precise neurotransmitter release. The molecular identity of most components of the presynaptic release machinery was established in past decade. However, we still do not completely understand, how the dynamic molecular interactions implement presynaptic performance and which mechanisms are engaged in modulation of this complex ensemble in order to execute functional plasticity of neurotransmitter release. This knowledge is indispensable to link functional characterization of presynaptic specializations with their molecular and structural mapping, which is in turn instrumental for rational design of pharmacological and genetic interventions applicable in rain diseases involving brake-down of synaptic function.

  • Head


    Anna Fejtova graduated at the Charles University in Prague, Czech Republic. She obtained her PhD in Neuroscience at the Neuroscience Center Zurich and at University of Zurich. She moved to Leibniz Institute for Neurobiology as a fellow of Swiss National Science Foundation in the department of Eckart Gundelfinger in 2003. She stayed in his department as scientist and later on as group leader to become leader of the independent Reserch Group Presynaptic Plasticity in 2013.

    Since 2016 she also heads Laboratory for Molecular Neurobiology and Neurophotonics at Department of Psychiatry and Psychotherapy, University Hospital Erlangen, where she is appointed as university professor for Molecular Psychiatry.

  • Members


    Prof. Dr. Anna Fejtova+49 9131
    PhD student  
    Debarpan Guhathakurta+49 9131 85-44886 
    Lab assistent  
    Janina Juhle+49-391-6263-


  • Projects


    In our current research we follow two main lines of investigations:

    First, we study molecular mechanisms behind presynaptic short-term plasticity. These rely on dynamic regulations of neurotransmitter release, occur in frames of seconds to minutes and are mediated by synapse-autonomous mechanisms, such as phosphorylation or ubiquitination of synaptic proteins.

    Second, we investigate mechanisms of long-term changes in presynaptic function corresponding to physiological phenomena like long-term potentiation, depression or homeostatic scaling. Here we mainly focus on presynapse-to-nucleus signalling driving eventually neuronal activity-driven reconfiguration of gene expressional programs, which is required to convert transient presynaptic modifications to more persistent molecular, structural and functional remodelling.

    To learn more about the projects of the group navigate to

  • Current Third Party Funds

    Current Third Party Funds

    DFG SFB 779 Neurobiologie motiverten Verhaltens

    Beeinflussung der Exzitations/Inhibitionsbalance durch NMDA Rezeptorantagonsiten bei Depression


    DFG GRK2162
    Neurodevelopment and Vulnerability of the Central Nervous System


    BMBF Generare
    German Network of RASopathy Research


    BMBF Generare2
    German Network of RASopathy Research

  • Publications



    Schattling B, Engler JB, Volkmann C, Rothammer N, Woo MS, Petersen M, Winkler I, Kaufmann M, Rosenkranz SC, Fejtova A, Thomas U, Bose A, Bauer S, Träger S, Miller KK, Brück W, Duncan KE, Salinas G, Soba P, Gundelfinger ED, Merkler D, Friese MA. 2019. Bassoon proteinopathy drives neurodegeneration in multiple sclerosis. Nature Neuroscience.



    Lazarevic V, Yang Y, Ivanova D, Fejtova A, Svenningsson P. 2018. Riluzole attenuates the efficacy of glutamatergic transmission by interfering with the size of the readily releasable neurotransmitter pool. Neuropharmacology. 143:38-48.

    Li M, Woelfer M, Colic L, Safron A, Chang C, Heinze HJ, Speck O, Mayberg HS, Biswal BB, Salvadore G, Fejtova A, Walter M. 2018. Default mode network connectivity change corresponds to ketamine’s delayed glutamatergic effects. European Archives of Psychiatry and Clinical Neuroscience.

    Annamneedi A, Caliskan G, Müller S, Montag D, Budinger E, Angenstein F, Fejtova A, Tischmeyer W, Gundelfinger ED, Stork O. 2018. Ablation of the presynaptic organizer Bassoon in excitatory neurons retards dentate gyrus maturation and enhances learning performance. Brain Structure and Function. 223(7):3423-3445.



    Schweitzer B, Singh J, Fejtova A, Groc L, Heine M, Frischknecht R. 2017. Hyaluronic acid based extracellular matrix regulates surface expression of GluN2B containing NMDA receptors. Scientific Reports. 7(1).

    Lazarevic V, Fieńko S, Andres-Alonso M, Anni D, Ivanova D, Montenegro-Venegas C, Gundelfinger ED, Cousin MA, Fejtova A. 2017. Physiological concentrations of amyloid beta regulate recycling of synaptic vesicles via alpha7 acetylcholine receptor and CDK5/calcineurin signaling. Frontiers in Molecular Neuroscience. 10.

    Li M, Demenescu LR, Colic L, Metzger CD, Heinze HJ, Steiner J, Speck O, Fejtova A, Salvadore G, Walter M. 2017. Temporal Dynamics of Antidepressant Ketamine Effects on Glutamine Cycling Follow Regional Fingerprints of AMPA and NMDA Receptor Densities. Neuropsychopharmacology. 42(6):1201-1209.

    Kawabe H, Mitkovski M, Kaeser PS, Hirrlinger J, Opazo F, Nestvogel D, Kalla S, Fejtova A, Verrier SE, Bungers SR, Cooper BH, Varoqueaux F, Wang Y, Nehring RB, Gundelfinger ED, Rosenmund C, Rizzoli SO, Südhof TC, Rhee J-S, Brose N. 2017. ELKS1 localizes the synaptic vesicle priming protein bMunc13-2 to a specific subset of active zones. Journal of Cell Biology. 216(4):1143-1161.

    Altmüller F, Pothula S, Annamneedi A, Nakhei-Rad S, Montenegro-Venegas C, Pina-Fernández E, Marini C, Santos M, Schanze D, Montag D, Ahmadian MR, Stork O, Zenker M, Fejtova A. 2017. Aberrant neuronal activity-induced signaling and gene expression in a mouse model of RASopathy. PLoS Genetics. 13(3).



    Ivanova D, Dirks A, Fejtova A. 2016. Bassoon and piccolo regulate ubiquitination and link presynaptic molecular dynamics with activity-regulated gene expression. Journal of Physiology. 594(19):5441-5448.



    Ivanova D, Dirks A, Montenegro-Venegas C, Schöne C, Altrock WD, Marini C, Frischknecht R, Schanze D, Zenker M, Gundelfinger ED, Fejtova A. 2015. Synaptic activity controls localization and function of CtBP1 via binding to Bassoon and Piccolo. EMBO Journal. 34(8):1056-1077.



    Morelli E, Ghiglieri V, Pendolino V, Bagetta V, Pignataro A, Fejtova A, Costa C, Ammassari-Teule M, Gundelfinger ED, Picconi B, Calabresi P. 2014. Environmental enrichment restores CA1 hippocampal LTP and reduces severity of seizures in epileptic mice. Experimental Neurology. 261:320-327.

    Davydova D, Marini C, King C, Klueva J, Bischof F, Romorini S, Montenegro-Venegas C, Heine M, Schneider R, Schroeder M, Altrock WD, Henneberger C, Rusakov DA, Gundelfinger ED, Fejtova A. 2014. Bassoon specifically controls presynaptic P/Q-type Ca2+ channels via RIM-binding protein. Neuron. 82(1):181-194.



    Lazarevic V, Pothula S, Andres-Alonso M, Fejtova A. 2013. Molecular mechanisms driving homeostatic plasticity of neurotransmitter release. Frontiers in Cellular Neuroscience. 7(DEC).

    Regus-Leidig H, Ott C, Löhner M, Atorf J, Fuchs M, Sedmak T, Kremers J, Fejtová A, Gundelfinger ED, Brandstätter JH. 2013. Identification and Immunocytochemical Characterization of Piccolino, a Novel Piccolo Splice Variant Selectively Expressed at Sensory Ribbon Synapses of the Eye and Ear. PLoS ONE. 8(8):e70373.

    Waites CL, Leal-Ortiz SA, Okerlund N, Dalke H, Fejtova A, Altrock WD, Gundelfinger ED, Garner CC. 2013. Bassoon and Piccolo maintain synapse integrity by regulating protein ubiquitination and degradation. EMBO Journal. 32(7):954-969.

    Schroeder M, Stellmacher A, Romorini S, Marini C, Montenegro-Venegas C, Altrock WD, Gundelfinger ED, Fejtova A. 2013. Regulation of Presynaptic Anchoring of the Scaffold Protein Bassoon by Phosphorylation-Dependent Interaction with 14-3-3 Adaptor Proteins. PLoS ONE. 8(3):e58814.

    Jing Z, Rutherford MA, Takago H, Frank T, Fejtova A, Khimich D, Moser T, Strenzke N. 2013. Disruption of the presynaptic cytomatrix protein bassoon degrades ribbon anchorage, multiquantal release, and sound encoding at the hair cell afferent synapse. Journal of Neuroscience. 33(10):4456-4467.



    Maas C, Torres VI, Altrock WD, Leal-Ortiz S, Wagh D, Terry-Lorenzo RT, Fejtova A, Gundelfinger ED, Ziv NE, Garner CC. 2012. Formation of Golgi-derived active zone precursor vesicles. Journal of Neuroscience. 32(32):11095-11108.

    Hübler D, Rankovic M, Richter K, Lazarevic V, Altrock WD, Fischer KD, Gundelfinger ED, Fejtova A. 2012. Differential spatial expression and subcellular localization of CtBP family members in Rodent Brain. PLoS ONE. 7(6):e39710.

    Gundelfinger ED, Fejtova A. 2012. Molecular organization and plasticity of the cytomatrix at the active zone. Current Opinion in Neurobiology. 22(3):423-430.



    Lazarevic V, Schöne C, Heine M, Gundelfinger ED, Fejtova A. 2011. Extensive remodeling of the presynaptic cytomatrix upon homeostatic adaptation to network activity silencing. Journal of Neuroscience. 31(28):10189-10200.



    Frank T, Rutherford MA, Strenzke N, Neef A, Pangršič T, Khimich D, Fejtová A, Gundelfinger ED, Liberman MC, Harke B, Bryan KE, Lee A, Egner A, Riedel D, Moser T. 2010. Bassoon and the synaptic ribbon organize Ca2+ channels and vesicles to add release sites and promote refilling. Neuron. 68(4):724-738.

    Fejtova A, Schmidt H, Weyhersmüller A, Silver RA, Gundelfinger ED, Eilers J. 2010. Bassoon speeds vesicle reloading at a central excitatory synapse. Neuron. 68(4):710-723.

    Lanore F, Blanchet C, Fejtova A, Pinheiro P, Richter K, Balschun D, Gundelfinger E, Mulle C. 2010. Impaired development of hippocampal mossy fibre synapses in mouse mutants for the presynaptic scaffold protein Bassoon. Journal of Physiology. 588(12):2133-2145.

    Ghiglieri V, Sgobio C, Patassini S, Bagetta V, Fejtova A, Giampá C, Marinucci S, Heyden A, Gundelfinger ED, Fusco FR, Calabresi P, Picconi B. 2010. TrkB/BDNF-dependent striatal plasticity and behavior in a genetic model of epilepsy: Modulation by valproic acid. Neuropsychopharmacology. 35(7):1531-1540.



    Gundelfinger ED, Fejtová A. 2009. Neurotransmitter release: a docking role for UNC-13 proteins (Commentary on Siksou et al.). European Journal of Neuroscience. 30(1):47-48.

    Fejtova A, Davydova D, Bischof F, Lazarevic V, Altrock WD, Romorini S, Schöne C, Zuschratter W, Kreutz MR, Garner CC, Ziv NE, Gundelfinger ED. 2009. Dynein light chain regulates axonal trafficking and synaptic levels of Bassoon. Journal of Cell Biology. 185(2):341-355.

    Gundelfinger ED, Altrock WD, Fejtová A. 2009. Active zone. Binder MD, Hirokawa N, Windhorst U, Hrsg. in Encyclopedia of Neuroscience. Berlin, Heidelberg: Springer. S. 44-49.



    Spiwoks-Becker I, Maus C, Tom Dieck S, Fejtová A, Engel L, Wolloscheck T, Wolfrum U, Vollrath L, Spessert R. 2008. Active zone proteins are dynamically associated with synaptic ribbons in rat pinealocytes. Cell and Tissue Research. 333(2):185-195.

    Frischknecht R, Fejtova A, Viesti M, Stephan A, Sonderegger P. 2008. Activity-induced synaptic capture and exocytosis of the neuronal serine protease neurotrypsin. Journal of Neuroscience. 28(7):1568-1579.



    Siksou L, Rostaing P, Lechaire JP, Boudier T, Ohtsuka T, Fejtová A, Kao HT, Greengard P, Gundelfinger ED, Triller A, Marty S. 2007. Three-dimensional architecture of presynaptic terminal cytomatrix. Journal of Neuroscience. 27(26):6868-6877.



    Dresbach T, Fejtová A, Gundelfinger ED. 2006. Assembly of presynaptic active zones. in Molecular Mechanisms of Synaptogenesis. S. 235-245.

    Fejtova A, Gundelfinger ED. 2006. Molecular organization and assembly of the presynaptic active zone of neurotransmitter release. Results and Problems in Cell Differentiation. 43:49-68.



    Tom Dieck S, Altrock WD, Kessels MM, Qualmann B, Regus H, Brauner D, Fejtová A, Bracko O, Gundelfinger ED, Brandstätter JH. 2005. Molecular dissection of the photoreceptor ribbon synapse: Physical interaction of Bassoon and RIBEYE is essential for the assembly of the ribbon complex. Journal of Cell Biology. 168(5):825-836.



    Mannová P, Liebl D, Krauzewicz N, Fejtová A, Štokrová J, Palková Z, Griffin BE, Forstová J. 2002. Analysis of mouse polyomavirus mutants with lesions in the minor capsid proteins. Journal of General Virology. 83(9):2309-2319.


    Please find all publication also here:

  • Hugo Junkers Award

    Hugo Junkers Award

    Anna Fejtová´team was happy about the third place at the Hugo-Junkers-Prize 2015. They were working on the protein CtBP1, an "activity switch" in nerve cells. Studies have shown that CtBP1 is a signalling mediator between the cell nucleus and the synapses of a nerve cell and plays an important role in learning and memory formation.

    It also has an effect on the pathological activity of the brain. For example, the scientists were able to show why a change in diet, the so-called ketogenic diet, reduces the typical symptoms of epilepsy patients. Since this diet also influences the course of other brain disorders, the Magdeburg scientists are now investigating the function of this signaling pathway in other neuropsychiatric and neurodegenerative diseases such as depression.

Share this page: