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Nami Tajima
Assistant Professor
Postdoctoral Fellow, Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory, New York
PhD, Yokohama City University, Japan
View Curriculum Vitae (pdf)

Mailing Address:
Robbins E619
10900 Euclid Ave
Cleveland , OH 44106-4970
Phone: 216-368-5519
Fax: 216-368-5586
nxt193@case.edu

Research Interests

Molecular Basis of Synaptic Transmission 

Synaptic transmission is an important cellular event underlying development, learning, memory, and other functions of the brain. Neurotransmitter receptors, transporters, and ion channels mediate synaptic communication, and their dysfunction is frequently implicated in neurological and psychiatric disorders. 
 
Our research group is pursuing molecular mechanisms of signal transduction with a specific focus on the synaptic communication, signaling, and plasticity at excitatory and inhibitory synapses. Synaptic plasticity is a process whereby certain synapses are strengthened and others are weakened during active learning and memory.
In many cases, neuroreceptors/ion channels form complexes and interact with scaffold proteins and signaling molecules to localize the specific site of synapses and to transfer information. Receptor functions are allosterically modulated by interacting proteins that regulate synaptic plasticity. We are interested in understanding the fundamental roles of neuroreceptors and their interacting proteins in this process.  
 
Current areas of interest within the lab include the following: 
(1) dissecting the signaling networks based on protein-protein interactions that are required for synaptic signal transduction     
      in the mammalian brain including humans
(2) elucidating the structure and function of signaling complexes
(3) developing new therapeutic compounds and antibodies targeting novel binding sites based on the determined structures
 
We use a variety of structural, biophysical, and electrophysiological techniques including single particle cryo-electron microscopy (cryo-EM), X-ray crystallography, protein biochemistry, surface plasmon resonance (SPR), mass spectroscopy, and electrophysiology to characterize the signaling complexes involved in synaptic function. 

Honors and Awards
  • Mt. Sinai Scholar
Featured Publications
  • Tajima N, Karakas E, Grant T, Simorowski N, Diaz-Avalos R, Grigorieff N and Furukawa H. Activation of NMDA receptors and the mechanism of inhibition by ifenprodil. Nature 2016 Jun;534:63-68. 
     
    Jespersen A*, Tajima N*, Fernandez-Cuervo G, Garnier-Amblard EC, and Furukawa H. Structural Insights into Competitive Antagonism in NMDA Receptors. Neuron 2014 Jan;81(2):366-378. * These authors contributed equally to this work
     
    Hansen KB, Tajima N, Risgaard R, Perszyk RE, Jørgensen L, Vance KM, Ogden KK, Clausen RP, Furukawa H, and Traynelis SF. Structural determinants of agonist efficacy at the glutamate binding site of N-methyl-D-aspartate receptors. Mol Pharmacol. 2013 Jul;84(1):114-27.
     
    Tajima N, Kawai F, Park SY, and Tame JR. A novel intein-like autoproteolytic mechanism in autotransporter proteins. J Mol Biol. 2010 Oct;402(4):645-56. 
     
    Nishimura K, Tajima N, Yoon YH, Park SY, and Tame JR. Autotransporter passenger proteins: virulence factors with common structural themes. J Mol Med. 2010 May;88(5):451-8.
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