Synaptic neurobiology

Billions of neurons in the human brain are organised into highly interconnected neural circuits for efficient processing of sensory information.

Communication between nerve cells depends on transmission of chemical signals, which occurs at specialised structures called synapses.The ability of neurons to modulate the strength of their synaptic connections, known as synaptic plasticity, forms the cellular basis of learning and memory.

How neurons dynamically modulate their synaptic strength is one of the outstanding and most fascinating questions in modern neuroscience. To answer this question, our laboratory focusses on mechanisms that regulate neuronal trafficking (both pre- and post-synaptic membrane trafficking), as well as the epitranscriptomic (RNA modification) mechanisms underlying activity-dependent gene expression during synaptic plasticity, learning and memory. Ultimately, we aim to understand how dysregulation of these cellular processes contributes to neurological disorders and neurodegenerative diseases.

Group leader

Dr Victor Anggono

Associate Professor Victor Anggono

Group Leader, Synaptic Neurobiology

Senior Research Fellow

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UQ Researcher Profile

Neurons are inherently plastic and have the ability to modify their synaptic strength and connectivity, as well as adjusting their intrinsic excitability. Our lab is interested in understanding the underlying mechanisms from the regulation of neuronal trafficking to the control of activity-dependent gene expression.

  • We discovered the role of the protein interacting with C-kinase 1 (PICK1), the only protein with a PDZ protein-protein interaction domain and a BAR lipid-binding/dimerization domain, in regulating the pre-synaptic cargo retrieval (Yong et al., Cell Rep., 2020).
  • We provided the first evidence for a role of a long non-coding RNA, Meg3, in regulating the trafficking of AMPA receptors during synaptic potentiation (Tan and Widagdo et al., Front. Cell. Neurosci., 2017).
  • We discovered that all AMPA receptor subunits undergo activity-dependent ubiquitination to regulate receptor intracellular sorting and degradation (Widagdo et al., Cell Rep., 2015). We subsequently showed that the same ubiquitination pathway underlies amyloid-β-induced loss of the GluA1 subunit and synaptic depression (Guntupalli et al., J. Biol. Chem., 2017).

Research Articles

Review Articles

View all publications

  • ARC Project Grant (DP190101390) “Regulation of glutamate receptor dynamics in mammalian central neurons” (2019-2022).
  • NHMRC Project Grant (GNT1138452) “Regulation of glutamate receptor trafficking by the calcium- and lipid-binding protein, copine-6” (2018-2021).
  • ARC Project Grant (DP170102402) “Regulation of synaptic vesicle endocytosis by membrane-sensing proteins” (2017-2019).
  • NHMRC Project Grant (GNT1099114) “Sorting out the synapse: the role of intracellular trafficking in NMDA receptor homeostasis” (2016-2018)
  • Activity-dependent regulation of glutamate receptor trafficking
  • Epitranscriptomic regulation of synaptic plasticity, learning and memory
  • Structure and function analysis of synaptic proteins
  • Neuronal trafficking in pre- and post-synaptic compartments
  • Post-translational regulation of synaptic function
  • Regulation of activity-dependent gene expression by post-transcriptional RNA methylation
  • RNA biology of neuronal plasticity

Our approach

Our research combines biochemical, molecular and cellular biology in both cell culture (primary neurons and cell lines) and mouse models. We utilise gene editing technology, cutting-edge microscopy, proteomics, next-generation sequencing and behavioural analyses in our study. We are particularly interested in understanding the complex neuronal signalling cascades through protein-protein interactions and post-translational modifications of key synaptic molecules.

Research areas

  • Neuronal trafficking
  • Neuroepigenetics
  • Neurodegenerative diseases

Our team

Group Leader

Research Members


  • Dr Se Eun (Joanne) Jang – PhD student (2019)
  • Dr Sumasri Guntupalli – PhD student (2020)