Centers & Labs

RIKEN Brain Science Institute

Laboratory for Synaptic Molecules of Memory Persistence

Laboratory Head: Thomas Launey (Ph.D.)
Thomas  Launey(Ph.D.)

Autonomy in old age is a critical issue for an aging society and requires retention of motor skills acquired during youth and adult age. Our goal is to understand the molecular mechanisms enabling acquisition of new skills and the life-time retention of the memory traces created sometimes decades ago. The apparent paradox is that these memories are encoded in the brain by proteins with a life-time not exceeding a week and thus, our hypothesis is that the underlying mechanism rely on meta-stable reorganization of protein network rather than particular proteins. As a model for this process, we are investigating the cellular and molecular basis of long term synaptic plasticity in the cerebellum, at synapse between granule neurons and Purkinje neurons.

Main Research Field

Biological Sciences

Related Research Fields



  • Purkinje cell
  • synaptic plasticity
  • Protein assemblies/tracking
  • Electrophysiology
  • stochastic simulation

Selected Publications

  1. * Iannella N., Launey T., Abbott D., Tanaka S.:
    "A nonlinearcable framework for bidirectional synaptic plasticity."
    PLoSone (Published August 22,2014, DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0102601).
  2. * Kratz A*., Beguin P*, Kaneko M., Chimura T., Suzuki A.M., Matsunaga, A., Kato S., Bertin N., Lassmann T., Vigot R., Carninci P., Plessy C., Launey T.:
    "Digital expression profiling of the compartmentalized translatome of Purkinje neurons."
    Genome Research (advanced publication June 5th, doi:10.1101/gr.164095.113).
  3. * Béguin P., Nagashima K., Mahalakshmi R.N., Vigot R., Matsunaga A., Miki T., Ng M.Y., Ng Y.J.A, Lim C.H., Tay H.S., Hwang L-A, Firsov D., Tang B.L., Inagaki N., Mori Y., Seino S., Launey T. #, and Hunziker W.# (#co-corresponding authors):
    "BARP associates with voltage-gated calcium channel β-subunits to regulate Ca2+-channel activity and Ca2+-evoked exocytosis."
    Journal of Cell Biology (Published April 1st 2014) DOI:10.1083/jcb.201304101
  4. * Sur S., Guler M.O., Webber M.J., Pashuck E.T., Ito M., Stupp S.I., Launey T.:
    "Synergistic regulation of cerebellar Purkinje neuron development by laminin epitopes and collagen on an artificial hybrid matrix construct."
    Biomater. Sci. (Advance Article: DOI: 10.1039/C3BM60228A)
  5. Sur S, Pashuck ET, Guler MO, Ito M, Stupp SI, Launey T.:
    "A hybrid nanofiber matrix to control the survival and maturation of brain neurons."
    Biomaterials. (2012) 33(2), 545-55.
  6. Chimura T, Launey T, Ito M.:
    "Evolutionarily conserved bias of amino-acid usage refines the definition of PDZ-binding motif"
    BMC Genomics. (2011) 12:300, 1-12
  7. Iannella NL, Launey T, Tanaka S.:
    "Spike timing-dependent plasticity as the origin of the formation of clustered synaptic efficacy engrams."
    Front Comput Neurosci. 2010 Jul 14;4. pii: 21.
  8. Bannai H, Lévi S, Schweizer C, Inoue T, Launey T, Racine V, Sibarita JB, Mikoshiba K, Triller A.:
    "Activity-dependent tuning of inhibitory neurotransmission based on GABAAR diffusion dynamics."
    Neuron. 2009 Jun 11;62(5):670-82
  9. Perron A, Mutoh H, Launey T, Knöpfel T.:
    "Red-shifted voltage-sensitive fluorescent proteins."
    Chem Biol. 2009 Dec 24;16(12):1268-77.
  10. Launey T, Endo S, Sakai R, Harano J, and Ito M.:
    "Protein phosphatase 2A inhibition induces cerebellar long-term depression and declustering of synaptic AMPA receptor."
    Proc.Natl.Acad.Sci.U.S.A (2004) 101, 676-681.

Lab Members

Principal Investigator

Thomas Launey
Laboratory Head

Core Members

Rejan Vigot
Research Scientist
Anne Guenther
Research Scientist
Yumiko Motoyama
Technical Staff I
Atsuko Matsunaga
Technical Staff I

Contact information

2-1 Hirosawa, Wako, Saitama 351-0198, Japan

Email: thomas.launey [at]

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