Theses Doctoral

Targeting neurons with small molecule probes: from imaging to modulation

Boltaev, Umed Tolibovich

Our body is governed through a complex network of diverse set of synapses created by many different neurons, which extend throughout the body. A great progress has been made to monitor and modulate these cells using genetic methods in limited settings, while chemical approaches have not achieved comparable successful results. Yet given the versatility of chemical probes, it has been important to create platforms which would allow us to generate compounds with characteristics of neuronal targeting and modulation.
In our effort to modulate neurons and their synapses, a platform of assays was developed to find agonists and modulators of the brain derived neurotrophic factor, BDNF, and its receptor, TrkB, which is a central signaling system for neurogenesis and synaptic plasticity. These assays were used to evaluate reported TrkB agonists and perform a high throughput screen. In addition, an alternative approach in the form of phage display targeting TrkB was employed, since TrkB proved to be a challenging target for identification of small molecule agonist or modulator.
To visualize different parts as well as various types of neurons, two different platforms were developed. A diversity oriented fluorescent library coupled with high content screening provided an opportunity to identify probes that could specifically stain neurons and synapses. In the second approach a new phage display method was developed that could identify probes with the ability to bind to neuronal cell surface markers. The developed platforms that we developed have a great potential to generate promising probes for vast array of applications.


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More About This Work

Academic Units
Thesis Advisors
Sames, Dalibor
Ph.D., Columbia University
Published Here
June 13, 2018