Katherine W. Roche, Ph.D.

Headshot of Katherine W. Roche

Katherine W. Roche, Ph.D.

Senior Investigator

BG 35 RM 2C-903

Dr. Roche received her B.S. from Duke University. In 1995 she received her Ph.D. from Johns Hopkins University, where she worked with Richard Huganir studying the regulation of glutamate receptors. She then did a postdoctoral fellowship with Robert Wenthold in the NIDCD, where she investigated the cell biology of glutamate receptor transport and localization. Dr. Roche joined NINDS as an Investigator in 2001. The main focus of her laboratory is the study of neurotransmitter receptor expression and targeting to the synapse.

Glutamate is the major excitatory neurotransmitter in the mammalian central nervous system, and in addition to its central role in fast excitatory signaling it is also involved in synaptogenesis, synaptic plasticity, and the pathogenesis of certain neurologic diseases. Although glutamate acts as a neurotransmitter in all pathways of the central nervous system, the response to glutamate is not uniform at all glutamatergic synapses and varies with the type of glutamate receptor expressed on the postsynaptic membrane. In this context, we are interested in studying synapse-specific expression of postsynaptic NMDA and metabotropic glutamate receptors. My laboratory characterizes the molecular mechanisms underlying neurotransmitter receptor transport and localization at the synapse using several research strategies which include (1) defining sorting motifs present in neurotransmitter receptor cytosolic domains, (2) isolating neurotransmitter receptor-associated proteins, and (3) determining the role of protein-protein interactions in trafficking and specific synapse localization. Using these cell biological approaches, we hope to elucidate the mechanisms of neurotransmitter receptor trafficking in neurons and the role of accessory proteins at central synapses.