Shining light on synaptic connections

Engineering a prosthetic cellular communication system

Group Association:

Description of Activities:

The group aims to build a bio-orthogonal cellular signalling system with potential applications in biotechnology and human health. Deficiency in cellular communication is the hallmark of many diseases, including cancer, metabolic and neurodegenerative disorders. Among latter, diseases with dopamine signalling defects are among the most common neurological disorders affecting >1.2 million people in Europe and 150.000 in Spain alone. Our current main activity is to generate a prosthetic neurotransmitter system in various neuronal circuits in C. elegans with the main goal to overcome cellular communication defects based on genetic disturbances. Likewise, we adopt similar strategies to implement an optogenetic communication system in mammalian cells to create higher order networks in which specialized cells can be interconnected and perform tasks that supersede the capacity of each individual cell type. We expect that this cell engineering toolbox will open up new avenues for synthetic biology and its clinical applications.