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Neuron Function: Memory Processes

Memory is understood to originate from the modulation of the strength of neuronal connections. Understanding the molecular origin of synapses plasticity is a current challenge in neuroscience, and one that could open new frontiers for molecular pharmacology. Within the context of the Human Brain Project, we are contributing to the study of a signaling cascade pathways underlying memory processes. We focus on the study of the modulation of adenylyl cyclase activity by the activated Gαs subunit, similarly to what happens in the smell cascade. Using hybrid quantum mechanical / molecular mechanical (QM/MM) Car-Parrinello simulations we are investigating the molecular events that enable enzymatic catalysis (Fig. 1). Molecular level data may provide valuable insight for the mathematical modeling of signaling cascades.

Adenylyl cyclaseFigure 1 - a) Sketch of the reaction mechanism involving adenylyl cyclase activated by ATP; b) Representation of the QM and MM regions in the system used for the QM/MM simulations