Glen Ernstrom – Neurobiology

Dr. Glen Ernstrom


Nerve cells in our brain talk to each other through packets of chemicals (Figure 1). The amount of chemicals in each packet is critical for relaying electrical nerve impulses from one neuron to the next. I am interested in how these chemical messengers are packaged and released. We know that these important chemical messengers called transmitters are loaded into tiny sacs, called vesicles, at the ends of a nerve. Triggered by an electrical nerve impulse, vesicles burst against the end of a nerve ending to unload its chemical packet. While the basics of chemical transmission are understood, we do not know what regulates the amount of chemicals loaded into each vesicle. Is there a molecular gauge? A switch? Using the genetic model organism, a round worm, Caenorhabiditis elegans, my research focuses on identifying the mechanism that controls vesicle loading and the release of neurotransmitters. In my lab we are currently testing the model that vesicle acidification regulates synaptic vesicle exocytosis. We use an interdisciplinary approach that applies genetics, molecular biology, electrophysiology, and live cell imaging.


Selected Publications

Glen G. Ernstrom, Robby Weimer R, Divya R. L. Pawar, Shigeki Watanabe, Robert J. Hobson, David Greenstein, Erik M. Jorgensen. 2012. V-ATPase V1 sector is required for corpse clearance and neurotransmission in Caenorhabditis elegans. Genetics 191(2):461-75.

Ken Sato, Glen G. Ernstrom, Shigeki Watanabe, Robby M. Weimer, Chih-Hsiung Chen, Miyuki Sato, Ayesha Siddiqui, Erik M. Jorgensen, and Barth D. Grant. 2009. “Differential requirements for clathrin in receptor- mediated endocytosis and maintenance of synaptic vesicle pools.” PNAS 106:1139-1144.

Asim A. Beg, Glen G. Ernstrom, Paola Nix, M. Wayne Davis, and Erik M. Jorgensen. 2008. “Protons act as a transmitter for muscle contraction in C. elegans.” Cell 132: 149-160.

Dattananda S. Chelur, Glen G. Ernstrom, Miriam B. Goodman, C. Andrea Yao, Lei Chen, Robert O’Hagan, and Martin Chalfie. 2002. “The mechanosensory protein MEC-6 is a subunit of the C. elegans touch-cell degenerin channel.” Nature 420: 669-73.

*Miriam B. Goodman, *Glen G. Ernstrom, Dattananda S. Chelur, Robert O’Hagan, C. Andrea Yao, and Martin Chalfie. 2002. “MEC-2 regulates C. elegans DEG/ENaC channels needed for mechanosensation.” Nature 28: 1039-42.

Glen G. Ernstrom and Martin Chalfie. 2002. “Genetics of sensory mechanotransduction.” 2002. Annual Reviews of Genetics 36: 411-53

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