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Dr Sue Jones

We study electrical and chemical signals in neurons, the basis of neuronal communication in the nervous system. We aim to understand how neuronal communication is disrupted in pathological states that mimic neurological disorders.
Dr Sue Jones

University Lecturer

Office Phone: +44 (0) 1223 333795

Research areas


Research Interests

NMDA receptors and synaptic control of dopamine neurons in the substantia nigra pars compacta

Substantia nigra dopamine neurons form part of the basal ganglia circuit, which is needed for motivated voluntary movement control. Degeneration of dopamine neurons is a characteristic feature of Parkinson’s disease. We study glutamatergic synapses onto dopamine neurons, with a particular interest in NMDA glutamate receptors: how they are regulated, and the balance between physiological and pathological NMDA receptor activity. For example, Paul Morris is a PhD student in the lab and he is currently studying activity-dependent down-regulation of NMDA receptors. This work has been funded by the BBSRC, Parkinson’s UK, the Wellcome Trust and the Isaac Newton Trust.

Key publications

Wild AR, Bollands M, Morris PG, Jones S, Mechanisms regulating spill-over of synaptic glutamate to extrasynaptic NMDA receptors in mouse substantia nigra dopaminergic neurons, European Journal of Neuroscience In press

Wild AR, Jones S, Gibb AJ, (2014), Activity dependent regulation of NMDA receptors in substantia nigra dopaminergic neurones, J Physiology, 592.4:653–668

Wild AR, Akyol E, Brothwell SLC, Kimkool P, Skepper JN, Gibb AJ, Jones S, (2013), Memantine block depends on agonist presentation at the NMDA receptor in substantia nigra pars compacta dopamine neurones, Neuropharmacology, 73:138-146

Brothwell SLC , Barber JL, Monaghan DT, Jane DE, Gibb AJ, Jones S, (2008), NR2B- and NR2D-containing synaptic NMDA receptors in developing rat substantia nigra pars compacta dopaminergic neurones, J Physiology, 586:739-750

Pre-cerebellar neurons in the timing of sensory events

In collaboration with Dr Steve Edgley, we have investigated the intrinsic properties of neurons in the lateral reticular nucleus, using a brain slice preparation. These neurons project a precise timing signal to the cerebellum. We identified a role for the hyperpolarization-activated cation conductance in sharpening the precision of post-inhibitory spike firing.

Key publications

Xu W, Jones S, Edgley SA, (2013), Event time representation in cerebellar mossy fibres arising from the lateral reticular nucleus, J Physiology, 591:1045-1062

Current collaborators

Dr Joshua Dudman & Dr Luke Lavis, Janelia Farm Research Campus USA
Dr Steve Edgley, University of Cambridge
Dr Alasdair Gibb, University College London
Dr Jeremy Skepper, University of Cambridge
Dr Stephen Traynelis, Emory University USA


Part II PDN Module P1 and Module N7

Part IB NST Neurobiology and MVST NHB


Above: Dopamine neurons in the substantia nigra have been immunolabelled with an antibody (red) and a nuclear stain (blue) to enable us to determine the density of dopamine neurons under different conditions. NMDA reduces the density, and this effect is reversed by memantine. From Wild et al., 2013.

Above: The use-dependent NMDA receptor antagonist, memantine reduces NMDA receptor mediated synaptic currents in response to high frequency stimulation, but not those in response to low frequency stimulation. From Wild et al., 2013.

Above: NMDA receptors at excitatory synapses in dopamine neurons are composed of GluN2B (ifenprodil-sensitive) and GluN2D (UBP141-sensitive) subunits. From Brothwell et al., 2008.