Honors & Awards

  • National Merit Scholar, National Merit Scholarship Program (2001-2004)
  • Undergraduate Award for Nanoscale Engineering, Murphy Society (2002-2003)
  • AHA Predoctoral Fellowship, American Heart Association (2009-2010)
  • F32 NRSA Postdoctoral Fellowship, National Institute of Mental Health (2013-2015)
  • K99 Pathway to Independence Award, National Institute of Mental Health (2015-)

Professional Education

  • Doctor of Philosophy, Washington University (2010)
  • Bachelor of Science, Northwestern University (2004)

Stanford Advisors


All Publications

  • Postsynaptic synaptotagmins mediate AMPA receptor exocytosis during LTP. Nature Wu, D., Bacaj, T., Morishita, W., Goswami, D., Arendt, K. L., Xu, W., Chen, L., Malenka, R. C., Südhof, T. C. 2017


    Strengthening of synaptic connections by NMDA (N-methyl-d-aspartate) receptor-dependent long-term potentiation (LTP) shapes neural circuits and mediates learning and memory. During the induction of NMDA-receptor-dependent LTP, Ca(2+) influx stimulates recruitment of synaptic AMPA (α-amino-3-hydroxy-5-methyl-4-isoxazole propionic acid) receptors, thereby strengthening synapses. How Ca(2+) induces the recruitment of AMPA receptors remains unclear. Here we show that, in the pyramidal neurons of the hippocampal CA1 region in mice, blocking postsynaptic expression of both synaptotagmin-1 (Syt1) and synaptotagmin-7 (Syt7), but not of either alone, abolished LTP. LTP was restored by expression of wild-type Syt7 but not of a Ca(2+)-binding-deficient mutant Syt7. Blocking postsynaptic expression of Syt1 and Syt7 did not impair basal synaptic transmission, reduce levels of synaptic or extrasynaptic AMPA receptors, or alter other AMPA receptor trafficking events. Moreover, expression of dominant-negative mutant Syt1 which inhibits Ca(2+)-dependent presynaptic vesicle exocytosis, also blocked Ca(2+)-dependent postsynaptic AMPA receptor exocytosis, thereby abolishing LTP. Our results suggest that postsynaptic Syt1 and Syt7 act as redundant Ca(2+)-sensors for Ca(2+)-dependent exocytosis of AMPA receptors during LTP, and thereby delineate a simple mechanism for the recruitment of AMPA receptors that mediates LTP.

    View details for DOI 10.1038/nature21720

    View details for PubMedID 28355182

  • Synaptotagmin-1 and -7 Are Redundantly Essential for Maintaining the Capacity of the Readily-Releasable Pool of Synaptic Vesicles. PLoS biology Bacaj, T., Wu, D., Burré, J., Malenka, R. C., Liu, X., Südhof, T. C. 2015; 13 (10)


    In forebrain neurons, Ca2+ triggers exocytosis of readily releasable vesicles by binding to synaptotagmin-1 and -7, thereby inducing fast and slow vesicle exocytosis, respectively. Loss-of-function of synaptotagmin-1 or -7 selectively impairs the fast and slow phase of release, respectively, but does not change the size of the readily-releasable pool (RRP) of vesicles as measured by stimulation of release with hypertonic sucrose, or alter the rate of vesicle priming into the RRP. Here we show, however, that simultaneous loss-of-function of both synaptotagmin-1 and -7 dramatically decreased the capacity of the RRP, again without altering the rate of vesicle priming into the RRP. Either synaptotagmin-1 or -7 was sufficient to rescue the RRP size in neurons lacking both synaptotagmin-1 and -7. Although maintenance of RRP size was Ca2+-independent, mutations in Ca2+-binding sequences of synaptotagmin-1 or synaptotagmin-7-which are contained in flexible top-loop sequences of their C2 domains-blocked the ability of these synaptotagmins to maintain the RRP size. Both synaptotagmins bound to SNARE complexes; SNARE complex binding was reduced by the top-loop mutations that impaired RRP maintenance. Thus, synaptotagmin-1 and -7 perform redundant functions in maintaining the capacity of the RRP in addition to nonredundant functions in the Ca2+ triggering of different phases of release.

    View details for DOI 10.1371/journal.pbio.1002267

    View details for PubMedID 26437117

  • beta-Neurexins Control Neural Circuits by Regulating Synaptic Endocannabinoid Signaling CELL Anderson, G. R., Aoto, J., Tabuchi, K., Foeldy, C., Covy, J., Yee, A. X., Wu, D., Lee, S., Chen, L., Malenka, R. C., Suedhof, T. C. 2015; 162 (3): 593-606
  • Synaptotagmin-1 and Synaptotagmin-7 Trigger Synchronous and Asynchronous Phases of Neurotransmitter Release NEURON Bacaj, T., Wu, D., Yang, X., Morishita, W., Zhou, P., Xu, W., Malenka, R. C., Suedhof, T. C. 2013; 80 (4): 947-959


    In forebrain neurons, knockout of synaptotagmin-1 blocks fast Ca(2+)-triggered synchronous neurotransmitter release but enables manifestation of slow Ca(2+)-triggered asynchronous release. Here, we show using single-cell PCR that individual hippocampal neurons abundantly coexpress two Ca(2+)-binding synaptotagmin isoforms, synaptotagmin-1 and synaptotagmin-7. In synaptotagmin-1-deficient synapses of excitatory and inhibitory neurons, loss of function of synaptotagmin-7 suppressed asynchronous release. This phenotype was rescued by wild-type but not mutant synaptotagmin-7 lacking functional Ca(2+)-binding sites. Even in synaptotagmin-1-containing neurons, synaptotagmin-7 ablation partly impaired asynchronous release induced by extended high-frequency stimulus trains. Synaptotagmins bind Ca(2+) via two C2 domains, the C2A and C2B domains. Surprisingly, synaptotagmin-7 function selectively required its C2A domain Ca(2+)-binding sites, whereas synaptotagmin-1 function required its C2B domain Ca(2+)-binding sites. Our data show that nearly all Ca(2+)-triggered release at a synapse is due to synaptotagmins, with synaptotagmin-7 mediating a slower form of Ca(2+)-triggered release that is normally occluded by faster synaptotagmin-1-induced release but becomes manifest upon synaptotagmin-1 deletion.

    View details for DOI 10.1016/j.neuron.2013.10.026

    View details for Web of Science ID 000327281200012

  • Synaptotagmin-12 Phosphorylation by cAMP-Dependent Protein Kinase Is Essential for Hippocampal Mossy Fiber LTP JOURNAL OF NEUROSCIENCE Kaeser-Woo, Y. J., Younts, T. J., Yang, X., Zhou, P., Wu, D., Castillo, P. E., Suedhof, T. C. 2013; 33 (23): 9769-9780


    Synaptotagmin-12 (Syt12) is an abundant synaptic vesicle protein that-different from other synaptic vesicle-associated synaptotagmins-does not bind Ca(2+). Syt12 is phosphorylated by cAMP-dependent protein kinase-A at serine-97 in an activity-dependent manner, suggesting a function for Syt12 in cAMP-dependent synaptic plasticity. To test this hypothesis, we here generated (1) Syt12 knock-out mice and (2) Syt12 knockin mice carrying a single amino-acid substitution [the serine-97-to-alanine- (S97A)-substitution]. Both Syt12 knock-out mice and Syt12 S97A-knockin mice were viable and fertile, and exhibited no measurable change in basal synaptic strength or short-term plasticity as analyzed in cultured cortical neurons or in acute hippocampal slices. However, both Syt12 knock-out and Syt12 S97A-knockin mice displayed a major impairment in cAMP-dependent mossy-fiber long-term potentiation (LTP) in the CA3 region of the hippocampus. This impairment was observed using different experimental configurations for inducing and monitoring mossy-fiber LTP. Moreover, although the Syt12 knock-out had no effect on the short-term potentiation of synaptic transmission induced by the adenylate-cyclase activator forskolin in cultured cortical neurons and in the CA1 region of the hippocampus, both the Syt12 knock-out and the Syt12 S97A-knockin impaired the long-term increase in mossy-fiber synaptic transmission induced by forskolin. Thus, Syt12 is essential for cAMP-dependent presynaptic LTP at mossy-fiber synapses, and a single amino-acid substitution that blocks the cAMP-dependent phosphorylation of Syt12 is sufficient to impair the function of Syt12 in mossy-fiber LTP, suggesting that cAMP-dependent phosphorylation of Syt12 on serine-97 contributes to the induction of mossy-fiber LTP.

    View details for DOI 10.1523/JNEUROSCI.5814-12.2013

    View details for Web of Science ID 000319963300020

    View details for PubMedID 23739973

  • KCNE1 enhances phosphatidylinositol 4,5-bisphosphate (PIP2) sensitivity of I-Ks to modulate channel activity PROCEEDINGS OF THE NATIONAL ACADEMY OF SCIENCES OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA Li, Y., Zaydman, M. A., Wu, D., Shi, J., Guan, M., Virgin-Downey, B., Cui, J. 2011; 108 (22): 9095-9100


    Phosphatidylinositol 4,5-bisphosphate (PIP(2)) is necessary for the function of various ion channels. The potassium channel, I(Ks), is important for cardiac repolarization and requires PIP(2) to activate. Here we show that the auxiliary subunit of I(Ks), KCNE1, increases PIP(2) sensitivity 100-fold over channels formed by the pore-forming KCNQ1 subunits alone, which effectively amplifies current because native PIP(2) levels in the membrane are insufficient to activate all KCNQ1 channels. A juxtamembranous site in the KCNE1 C terminus is a key structural determinant of PIP(2) sensitivity. Long QT syndrome associated mutations of this site lower PIP(2) affinity, resulting in reduced current. Application of exogenous PIP(2) to these mutants restores wild-type channel activity. These results reveal a vital role of PIP(2) for KCNE1 modulation of I(Ks) channels that may represent a common mechanism of auxiliary subunit modulation of many ion channels.

    View details for DOI 10.1073/pnas.1100872108

    View details for Web of Science ID 000291106200041

    View details for PubMedID 21576493

  • KCNE1 Remodels the Voltage Sensor of Kv7 1 to Modulate Channel Function BIOPHYSICAL JOURNAL Wu, D., Pan, H., Delaloye, K., Cui, J. 2010; 99 (11): 3599-3608


    The KCNE1 auxiliary subunit coassembles with the Kv7.1 channel and modulates its properties to generate the cardiac I(Ks) current. Recent biophysical evidence suggests that KCNE1 interacts with the voltage-sensing domain (VSD) of Kv7.1. To investigate the mechanism of how KCNE1 affects the VSD to alter the voltage dependence of channel activation, we perturbed the VSD of Kv7.1 by mutagenesis and chemical modification in the absence and presence of KCNE1. Mutagenesis of S4 in Kv7.1 indicates that basic residues in the N-terminal half (S4-N) and C-terminal half (S4-C) of S4 are important for stabilizing the resting and activated states of the channel, respectively. KCNE1 disrupts electrostatic interactions involving S4-C, specifically with the lower conserved glutamate in S2 (Glu(170) or E2). Likewise, Trp scanning of S4 shows that mutations to a cluster of residues in S4-C eliminate current in the presence of KCNE1. In addition, KCNE1 affects S4-N by enhancing MTS accessibility to the top of the VSD. Consistent with the structure of Kv channels and previous studies on the KCNE1-Kv7.1 interaction, these results suggest that KCNE1 alters the interactions of S4 residues with the surrounding protein environment, possibly by changing the protein packing around S4, thereby affecting the voltage dependence of Kv7.1.

    View details for DOI 10.1016/j.bpj.2010.10.018

    View details for Web of Science ID 000285033800012

    View details for PubMedID 21112284

  • State-dependent electrostatic interactions of S4 arginines with E1 in S2 during Kv7.1 activation JOURNAL OF GENERAL PHYSIOLOGY Wu, D., Delaloye, K., Zaydman, M. A., Nekouzadeh, A., Rudy, Y., Cui, J. 2010; 135 (6): 595-606


    The voltage-sensing domain of voltage-gated channels is comprised of four transmembrane helices (S1-S4), with conserved positively charged residues in S4 moving across the membrane in response to changes in transmembrane voltage. Although it has been shown that positive charges in S4 interact with negative countercharges in S2 and S3 to facilitate protein maturation, how these electrostatic interactions participate in channel gating remains unclear. We studied a mutation in Kv7.1 (also known as KCNQ1 or KvLQT1) channels associated with long QT syndrome (E1K in S2) and found that reversal of the charge at E1 eliminates macroscopic current without inhibiting protein trafficking to the membrane. Pairing E1R with individual charge reversal mutations of arginines in S4 (R1-R4) can restore current, demonstrating that R1-R4 interact with E1. After mutating E1 to cysteine, we probed E1C with charged methanethiosulfonate (MTS) reagents. MTS reagents could not modify E1C in the absence of KCNE1. With KCNE1, (2-sulfonatoethyl) MTS (MTSES)(-) could modify E1C, but [2-(trimethylammonium)ethyl] MTS (MTSET)(+) could not, confirming the presence of a positively charged environment around E1C that allows approach by MTSES(-) but repels MTSET(+). We could change the local electrostatic environment of E1C by making charge reversal and/or neutralization mutations of R1 and R4, such that MTSET(+) modified these constructs depending on activation states of the voltage sensor. Our results confirm the interaction between E1 and the fourth arginine in S4 (R4) predicted from open-state crystal structures of Kv channels and reveal an E1-R1 interaction in the resting state. Thus, E1 engages in electrostatic interactions with arginines in S4 sequentially during the gating movement of S4. These electrostatic interactions contribute energetically to voltage-dependent gating and are important in setting the limits for S4 movement.

    View details for DOI 10.1085/jgp.201010408

    View details for Web of Science ID 000278186500007

    View details for PubMedID 20479111

  • A multiscale model linking ion-channel molecular dynamics and electrostatics to the cardiac action potential PROCEEDINGS OF THE NATIONAL ACADEMY OF SCIENCES OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA Silva, J. R., Pan, H., Wu, D., Nekouzadeh, A., Decker, K. F., Cui, J., Baker, N. A., Sept, D., Rudy, Y. 2009; 106 (27): 11102-11106


    Ion-channel function is determined by its gating movement. Yet, molecular dynamics and electrophysiological simulations were never combined to link molecular structure to function. We performed multiscale molecular dynamics and continuum electrostatics calculations to simulate a cardiac K(+) channel (I(Ks)) gating and its alteration by mutations that cause arrhythmias and sudden death. An all-atom model of the I(Ks) alpha-subunit KCNQ1, based on the recent Kv1.2 structure, is used to calculate electrostatic energies during gating. Simulations are compared with experiments where varying degrees of positive charge-added via point mutation-progressively reduce current. Whole-cell simulations show that mutations cause action potential and ECG QT interval prolongation, consistent with clinical phenotypes. This framework allows integration of multiscale observations to study the molecular basis of excitation and its alteration by disease.

    View details for DOI 10.1073/pnas.0904505106

    View details for Web of Science ID 000267796100044

    View details for PubMedID 19549851