Ann Marie Craig is professor of psychiatry and Canada Research Chair in Neurobiology at the University of British Columbia and is a member of the Royal Society of Canada. She began her studies on synapses as a postdoctoral fellow with Gary Banker and held previous faculty positions at the University of Illinois and at Washington University in St. Louis.
The Craig laboratory’s goals are to define the roles of synaptic organizing complexes in brain development, understand how mutations contribute to neuropsychiatric disorders and develop targeted therapeutics to restore synaptic function. The Craig laboratory previously identified several synaptogenic proteins from an unbiased screen; remarkably, all act through presynaptic neurexins or leukocyte common antigen-related receptor protein tyrosine phosphatases (LAR-PTPs). Mutations in many of these genes, as well as newly identified suppressors of these complexes, are linked to autism and schizophrenia. Analyses of mouse models has revealed selective roles at specific excitatory and inhibitory synapses in hippocampal circuits.
A recent major finding out of the laboratory was the discovery that neurexins are modified with heparan sulfate, a glycan that contributions to postsynaptic ligand binding and is essential for neurexin function. Another long-standing area of research is the characterization of neurotransmitter receptor-associated proteins and how they influence receptor trafficking and function. Ongoing studies are focusing on understanding how such receptor-associated proteins and post-transcriptional modifications of synaptic organizing complexes control synapse development and function in neural circuits, and how these pathways might be exploited for therapeutic development.