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School of Biochemistry
Medical Sciences Building
University Walk
BS8 1TD - Bristol
United Kingdom

+44 117 331 1944

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Dr John Hanley
Molecular and Cell Biology
Neuroscience at Bristol

Research Area

The overarching aim of my research is to investigate molecular mechanisms that underlie brain function, in particular synaptic transmission. A primary focus of the lab is the regulation of AMPA receptor trafficking, in particular how the actin cytoskeleton controls this process during synaptic plasticity. We are particularly interested in the protein PICK1, which links membrane proteins to Arp2/3-mediated actin polymerisation to regulate trafficking. In addition, we study how actin dynamics regulate dendritic spine morphology during plasticity.  Research in the lab uses biochemical, molecular and imaging techniques.

While still essentially focussing on the regulation of synaptic transmission, my research also investigates how these mechanisms relate to the events that lead to cell death following ischaemia. In addition, we are interested in the actin-regulatory mechanisms that underlie the changes in astrocyte morphology during reactive astrogliosis. Most recently, we have initiated a project to investigate the mechanisms that underlie the invasiveness of brain tumour cells (astrocytoma).

Please see also:


5 Selected Publications

Murk K., Blanco Suarez EM., Cockbill LMR., Banks P., and Hanley JG. (2013) The antagonistic modulation of Arp2/3 activity by N-WASP/WAVE2 and PICK1 defines dynamic changes in astrocyte morphology. J Cell Sci., 126 (Pt 17): 3873-83.

Rocca DL., Amici A., Antoniou A., Blanco Suarez E., Halemani N., Murk K., McGarvey J., Jaafari N., Mellor JR., Collingridge GL., and Hanley JG. (2013). The small GTPase Arf1 regulates Arp2/3-mediated actin polymerization via PICK1 to control synaptic plasticity. Neuron., 79 (2): 293-307.

Jaafari N., Henley JM., and Hanley JG. (2012) PICK1 mediates transient synaptic expression of GluA2-lacking AMPA receptors during glycine-induced AMPA receptor trafficking. J Neurosci.., 32 (34): 11618-30.

Nakamura Y., Wood CL., Patton AP., Jaafari N., Henley JM., Mellor JR., and Hanley JG. (2011) PICK1 inhibition of the Arp2/3 complex controls dendritic spine size and synaptic plasticity. EMBO J., 30 (4): 719-30.

Dixon RM., MellorJR., and Hanley JG. (2009) PICK1-Mediated Glutamate Receptor Subunit 2 (GluR2) Trafficking contributes to cell death In oxygen/glucose deprived hippocampal neurons. J Biol. Chem., 284 (21): 14230-5.

Awards, Fellowships and Honours

2008            RCUK Academic Fellowship (until 2012)
2004            Wellcome Trust Career Development Fellowship (until 2007)
1999            Wellcome Trust Prize Travelling Fellowship (until 2001)

Technical Expertise

  • AMPA receptor trafficking
  • Actin cytoskeleton
  • Astrocyte morphology
  • Brain ischaemia / stroke
  • Protein-protein interactions
  • Confocal microscopy