We are using FRAP, microfluidics, and chemical treatment to study the role of tension in regulating vesicle accumulation at synapses.
We showed that actin rings interact with motor proteins to exert a circumferential tension (essentially like rubber bands) in neurons, regulating neuron diameter, and potentially microtubules spacing and biomolecule transport.
By studying the natural contraction of slacked nerve cells, we identified the proteins responsible for generating the contraction and the axial tension in neurons.
We found that brain slices that had been stretched (see enabling methods) more had higher excitability. Sudden mechanical stretch can also stimulate brain activity.