Welcome to the Lu Chen Lab

The long-term goal of our research is to understand the cellular and molecular mechanisms that underlie synapse function during behavior in the developing and mature brain, and how synapse function is altered during mental retardation. In this broad research area, we are specifically interested in the molecular underpinnings of activity-dependent regulation of synaptic strength, the role of postsynaptic protein translation in plastic changes of synaptic activity, and the impairment of synapses in autism spectrum disorders (e.g. Fragile X syndrome) that involves changes in postsynaptic protein translation and synaptic strength. 

Some of our current research focuses include:

  1. Synaptic signaling mechanisms of RA - dissecting the molecular pathways for synaptic RA signaling, understanding the role of RA in the mature brain in mediating homeostatic and potentially other forms of synaptic plasticity, and exploring the function of RA in animal learning and behavior.
  2. Synaptic dysfunction in Fragile-X Syndrome - understanding the role of Fragile-X mental retardation protein in synaptic RA signaling, and studying synaptic functions in neurons derived from Fragile-X patients.
  3. Oxidative stress and synaptic dysfunction – understanding how glial and neuronal antioxidant responses to oxidative stress protect neuronal function, and which processes may be compromised in neurological disorders.