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UMR 7286 - Centre de Recherche en Neurobiologie et Neurophysiologie de Marseille

J.P. Mothet team

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Gliotransmission et synaptopathies

Chemical synapses are functional compartments specialized in transferring and transducing signals between neurons. Synapses allow neurons and their neighbor cells to form complex cellular networks which are crucial for brain operations.

J.P. Mothet team

Our vision of the intimate rules governing synaptic transmission and synaptic plasticity has radically changed over the last 20 years. Indeed, modern neuroscience recognizes that glial cells are key partners for the patterning and the dynamics of many central synapses. Information on the primary contribution of glial cells to cell-cell communication and informations processing in the brain is expanding at an accelerating pace. Glia provides trophic support to neuron, modulates synaptic transmission and couples multiple neurons and synapses into functional assemblies. Evidence is mounting that glial cell loss or dysfunction may also be central to the pathogenesis of neurodegenerative and psychiatric disorders wherein the cross-talk between neurons and glia would be impaired leading to alterations in synapses functions and patterning the so called synaptopathies. Glia fulfills a major homeostatic and regulatory role in the mammalian brain notably through the release of neuroinformative molecules called gliotransmitters (Glutamate, ATP, D-serine, immune molecules etc) in the perisynaptic space.

We have discovered that D-serine, an atypical brain messenger, is a first class gliotransmitter which is essential for the synapses to work properly and therefore for cognitive functions.

Our team ‘Gliotransmission and Synaptopathies’ aims to uncover the functional relevance of glia-neuron interactions in the healthy and pathological brain with a special focus on the role of D-serine and other gliotransmitters in regulating chemical synapses. Our research plan is to:

  1. Decipher the cellular and molecular mechanisms underlying gliotransmission and its mode of regulation.
  2. Study the function of gliotransmission and D-serine at glutamatergic synapses and in regulating the patterning and dynamics of neuronal networks in the hippocampus, the prefrontal cortex and the enteric nervous system.
  3. Develop novel technological tools to study D-sérine.

We address those challenges using a multidisciplinary and bottom-up approach of biochemistry, cell biology, electrophysiology and live imaging tools applied to dissociated glial and neuronal cultures, brain slices and in situ preparations.

We work at advancing the frontiers on the functions of brain D-amino acids and glia in synaptic physiopathology with strong efforts to translate bench work to brain therapy and with the goal of developing novel technologies.

Research focus :

Synapse / Glia-Neuron interactions / Brain pathologies

Scientific expertises :

D-serine ; Gliotransmission ; Synapse ; NMDA receptors ; Synaptic plasticity ; Exocytosis ;

Technical expertises :

In vitro & ex vivo cellular electrophysiology ; Live cell imaging ; Biochemistry ; Molecular & Cellular Biology ; Biosensors; Immunohistochemistry.

Key words :

D-Serine ; Gliotransmission ; glia-neuron interactions ; Synapse ; Synaptic plasticity ; Exocytosis ; Hippocampus ; prefrontal cortex ; enteric nervous system


Local :

  • Patrick Delmas (CRN2M UMR7286, Marseille)
  • Lotfi Ferhat (NICN, Marseille)

National :

  • Francine Acher (Université Paris Descartes, Paris)
  • Jean-Marie Billard (Centre de Psychiatrie et Neurosciences, Université Paris Descartes, Paris)
  • Frédéric Dorandeu
  • Christian Giaume (Collège de France, Paris)
  • Mark Millan (Servier, Croissy-sur-Seine)
  • Denis Vivien (Cyceron, Caen)

International :

  • Paola Bezzi (University of Lausanne, Switzerland)
  • Joseph Coyle (Harvard Medical School, USA)
  • Kenji Hamase (Kyushu University, Japan)
  • Reinhard Jahn (MPI, Goettingen, Germany)
  • Loredano Pollegioni & Silvia Sacchi (Universa di Varese, Italy)
  • Michael Rogawski (UC Davis, USA)
  • Solomon H Snyder (Johns Hopkins School of Medicine, USA)
  • Jonathan Sweedler (University of Illinois, USA)


France Alzheimer 2013-2015, PI: JP Mothet

France-Berkeley Fund, 2012, JP Mothet – M Rogawski

ANR ‘PsychoSer’ 2009-2012, PI: JP Mothet

ANR MNP ‚AstreX’ 2005-2007, Co-PI: JP Mothet

Servier 2007-2010, PI: JP Mothet

AFM, 2006-2007, PI: JP Mothet

ARC-INCA, Co-PI: JP Mothet

Glenn Dallérac Postdoc ANR 2010-2013 now Postdoc College de France, Paris
Jérôme Dulong Lab Technician 2008-2011
Hélène Duquennoy DEA ENS 2002 now Professeur Agrégé
Rosina Giordano Master 2 INSA 2007 now Postdoc Queensland Brain Institute
  PhD student 2008
Marwa Hanini Stagiaire INSAT 2012 PhD student (IBDM, Marseille)
Vivien Labat Gest Master 2 2006-2007 now postdoc University Turin
Christophe Guy BTS 2003
Nadia Hubert Postdoc 2003-2004 now freelance consulting
Aurore Lacroix Stagiaire Maîtrise 2004
Grégoire Levasseur Postdoc ANR 2012 School Teacher
Stéphane Marinesco Postdoc 2004-2006 now Research Scientist INSERM, Lyon
Magalie Martineau Master 2 2005-2006 now Postdoc University Muenster, Germany
Marie Pariollaud Stagiaire ENSCM 2009
Cindy Prenel Stagiaire DEUG SV 2004
Silvia Sacchi Postdoc 2005 now Associate Professor, University Varese
Emilie Thiebot INSA Toulouse 2002
Isabelle Thiercelin Master EPHE 2007
Fabrice Turpin PhD student 2007-2010 now Postdoc Queensland Brain Institute
Peggy Vincent Postdoc FRM 2009 now IE CDD INSERM U862
Wenyan Zhong Stagiaire INSA lyon 2005

Highlighted Publications

The CRN2M in numbers

  • 20 Researchers
  • 19 Enseignants Chercheurs
  • 39 Technicians and Assistants
  • 3 Post-Docs
  • 5 Docs
  • 4 Master Students

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