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Thirumalini Vaithianathan, PhD

Assistant Professor
Department of Pharmacology

The University of Tennessee Health Science Center
Translational Research Building, Room 215
71 South Manassas St.
Memphis, TN 38103
Phone: 901.448.2786
Email: Thirumalini Vaithianathan


  • Ph.D. Institution: Auburn University, Pharmacology and Physiology
  • Postdoctoral: UTHSC, Pharmacology
  • Research Associate: Burke-Cornell Medical Research Institute, Visual Rehabilitation
  • Research Associate: Stony Brook University, Neurobiology and Behavior
  • Research Assistant Professor: Stony Brook University, Neurobiology and Behavior

Research Keywords

  • Single-molecule imaging
  • Synaptic vesicle tracking
  • Localized calcium signaling
  • Synaptic ribbon
  • Complexins
  • CtBP
  • Electrophysiology
  • Retinal bipolar neurons
  • Synaptic terminal
  • Synaptic vesicle cycle
  • Zebrafish and Mouse Retina

Research Interests

Synapses are communication points of neurons. Synaptic vesicle fusion is a tightly controlled process governed by many factors and triggered by localized calcium levels, Sensory synapses face additional challenges besides to the basic requirements, that is to be able to transmit extremely fast, precise and sustained neurotransmission that is critical for the perception of complex senses such as vision and hearing. The main objective of the research in my laboratory is to understand how retinal bipolar cells, a class of neuron critical to support both fast transient and slow sustained release are specialized for these tasks. This work study the components involved in synaptic vesicle trafficking and localized presynaptic calcium signaling in normal and degenerative disease utilizing state-of-the-art imaging, electrophysiological, electron microscopy, and pharmacological tools in retinal bipolar neurons from transgenic zebrafish and mouse models.

Representative Publications 

  • Vaithianathan T, Wollmuth LP, Henry D, Zenisek D, Matthews G. Tracking Newly Released Synaptic Vesicle Proteins at Ribbon Active Zones. iScience. 2019 Jul 26;17:10-23. doi: 10.1016/j.isci.2019.06.015. Epub 2019 Jun 13. PubMed PMID: 31247447; PubMed Central PMCID: PMC6598641.
  • Vaithianathan T, Henry D, Akmentin W, Matthews G. Nanoscale dynamics of synaptic vesicle trafficking and fusion at the presynaptic active zone. Elife. 2016 Feb 11;5. pii: e13245. doi: 10.7554/eLife.13245. PubMed PMID: 26880547; PubMed Central PMCID: PMC4786419.
  • Viswaprakash N, Vaithianathan T, Viswaprakash A, Judd R, Parameshwaran K, Suppiramaniam V. Insulin treatment restores glutamate (α-amino-3-hydroxy-5-methyl-4-isoxazolepropionic acid) receptor function in the hippocampus of diabetic rats. J Neurosci Res. 2015 Sep;93(9):1442-50. doi: 10.1002/jnr.23589. Epub 2015 Mar 24. PubMed PMID: 25807926.
  • Vaithianathan T, Henry D, Akmentin W, Matthews G. Functional roles of complexin in neurotransmitter release at ribbon synapses of mouse retinal bipolar neurons. J Neurosci. 2015 Mar 4;35(9):4065-70. doi: 10.1523/JNEUROSCI.2703-14.2015. PubMed PMID: 25740533; PubMed Central PMCID: PMC4348196.
  • Vaithianathan T, Matthews G. Visualizing synaptic vesicle turnover and pool refilling driven by calcium nanodomains at presynaptic active zones of ribbon synapses. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2014 Jun 10;111(23):8655-60. doi: 10.1073/pnas.1323962111. Epub 2014 May 27. PubMed PMID: 24912160; PubMed Central PMCID: PMC4060678.
  • Vaithianathan T, Akmentin W, Henry D, Matthews G. The ribbon-associated protein C-terminal-binding protein 1 is not essential for the structure and function of retinal ribbon synapses. Mol Vis. 2013 Apr 18;19:917-26. Print 2013. PubMed PMID: 23687428; PubMed Central PMCID: PMC3654860.

View more references (pubmed link)

May 26, 2022