Project Co-ordinator:

Prof. Leszek Kaczmarek
Nencki Institute
Warsaw, POLAND


Project Manager:

Ms. Marta Rucinska
Nencki Institute
Warsaw, POLAND


Recruitment Co-ordinator

Prof. Alexander Dityatev
Deutsches Zentrum fur
Neurodegenerative Erkrankungen
Magdeburg, GERMANY


Training Co-ordinator

Prof. Robert Pawlak
University of Exeter Medical School
Exeter, UK

ESR2:    Role of Matrix Metalloproteinase-9 (MMP-9) in plasticity at synapses (lead: NENCKI, partners: UNEXE, MPG, SVIDA)                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    

Ahmad Salamian  









Neuronal synapses are maintained by a complex network of adhesion molecules. MMPs known as extracellular proteases are able to modify synaptic function of which MMP-9 is of particular importance because of being able to change spine morphology by cleavage of postsynaptic adhesion molecules. However, it still remains largely unknown how MMPs may contribute to pre- and postsynaptic function. To uncover potential role of MMP-9 in synaptic plasticity, a cholinergically induced plasticity in hippocampus in which there is no evidence for MMP-9 was mainly used. Assessment of presynaptic function correlated to vesicle exocytosis and endocytosis detected by FM dye and antibody against the luminal domain of Synaptotagmin was conducted. Whole-cell patch-clamp technique has been mostly applied to record spontaneous and evoked post synaptic currents on hippocampal organotypic slice culture from normal and transgenic animals. Furthermore, other approaches such as gelatin zymography to evaluate MMP-9 enzymatic activity, fluorescent labeling of dendritic spines to assess changes in spines density and morphology, and western blot and co-immunoprecipitation to discover potential proteins targeted by MMP-9 have been conducted. Moreover, to discover possible role of MMP-9 in balanced neuronal activity, link of MMP-9 and hippocampal GABAergic interneurons is assessed by using whole-cell patch-clamp technique. In addition, considering potential role of carbachol, a cholinergic agonist, to induce network oscillations, unexpected role of MMP-9 in neural rhythmic activity is investigated by field recording technique.


For more information about research in the group, please see recent papers and reviews:

  • Knapska E., Lioudyno V., Kiryk A., Gorkiewicz T., Mikosz M., Michaluk P., Gawlak M., Chaturvedi M., Mochol G., Balcerzyk M., Wojcik D.K., Wilczynski G.M., Kaczmarek L. Reward learning requires activity of matrix metalloproteinase-9 in the central amygdala. J. Neurosci., 33: 14591–14600, 2013.
  • Dziembowska M., Milek J., Janusz A., Rejmak E., Romanowska E., Gorkiewicz T., Tiron A., Bramham C., Kaczmarek L. Activity-dependent local translation of matrix metalloproteinase-9. J. Neurosci., 32: 14538 –14547, 2012.
  • Knapska E., Macias M., Mikosz M., Nowak A., Owczarek D., Wawrzyniak M., Pieprzyk M.,  Cymerman I.A., Werka T., Sheng M., Maren S., Jaworski J., Kaczmarek L., Functional anatomy of neural circuits regulating fear and extinction. Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. USA, 42: 17093-17098, 2012.
  • Rivera S., Khrestchatisky M., Kaczmarek L., Rosenberg G.A., Jaworski D.M., Metzincin proteases and their inhibitors, foes or friends in nervous system physiology? J. Neurosci., 30: 15337–15357, 2010.
  • Knapska E., Radwanska K., Werka T., Kaczmarek L., Functional internal complexity of amygdala: focus on gene activity mapping following behavioral training and drugs of abuse. Physiol. Rev., 87: 1113-1173, 2007.
  • Wilczynski G.M., Konopacki F.A., Wilczek E., Lasiecka Z., Gorlewicz A., Michaluk P., Wawrzyniak M., Malinowska M., Okulski P., Kolodziej L.R., Konopka W., Duniec K., Mioduszewska B., Nikolaev E., Walczak A., Owczarek D., Gorecki D.C., Zuschratter W., Ottersen O.P., Kaczmarek L. Important role of matrix metalloproteinase 9 (MMP-9) in epileptogenesis. J. Cell Biol., 180: 1021-1035, 2008.

The Nencki Institute ( is the leading biological research insitution in Poland, with excellent infrastructure allowing to conduct mostly animal studies ranging from biochemistry & molecular biology through cell biology, neurobiology to neurophysiology, as well as human psychophysiology and brain imaging.