Rebecca Wallrafen

Doctoral student

Scientific interests

The assembly and function of presynaptic nerve terminals relies on evolutionarily conserved proteins. A small number of presynaptic proteins occurs only in vertebrates. These proteins may add specialized functions to certain synapses, thus increasing synaptic heterogeneity. One of these vertebrate-specific proteins is Mover, a protein that is associated with synaptic vesicles. In the first part of my PhD I am employing quantitative immunofluorescence approaches to characterize the distribution and subcellular localization of Mover in the mouse brain. We show that Mover is differentially distributed in the forebrain and cerebellum of the adult mouse. Our data reveal a striking heterogeneity in the abundance of Mover on three levels, i.e. between brain areas, within individual brain areas and between synapse types.  Additionally, I am interested in elucidating the function of Mover in various pathways, ranging from somatosensation to complex processes such as anxiety-mediated behavior.


  • 07/2016 – present PhD project, University of Göttingen / GGNB program Neuroscience
  • 10/2014 – 06/2016 M.Sc. in Neuroscience, University of Göttingen and International Max Planck Research  School for Neuroscience; thesis: “Studying dopaminergic synapses in brain tissue and in cell culture: molecular composition of tyrosine hydroxylase-containing varicosities”
  • 09/2011 – 07/2014 B.Sc. in Molecular Life Sciences, Radboud University Nijmegen, Netherlands; thesis: “Structural and functional connectivity in the somatosensory system of a mouse-model for Kleefstra Syndrome.”


  • Quantifying the heterogeneous distribution of a synaptic protein in the mouse brain using immunofluorescence.
    Wallrafen, R., Dresbach, T., Viotti, J. S.
    J. Vis. Exp., in review, 2018
  • The Presynaptic Protein Mover is Heterogeneously Expressed across Brain Areas and Synapse Types
    Wallrafen, R. and Dresbach, T.
    Front. Neuroanat. 12:58, 2018, doi: 10.3389/fnana.2018.00058
  • An Optical Assay for Synaptic Vesicle Recycling in Cultured Neurons Overexpressing Presynaptic Proteins
    Riemann, D., Petkova, A., Dresbach, T., Wallrafen, R.
    J. Vis. Exp. (136), e58043, 2018, doi: 10.3791/58043
  • The Kohlschütter-Tönz syndrome associated gene Rogdi encodes a novel presynaptic protein
    Donatus Riemann, Rebecca Wallrafen & Thomas Dresbach
    Scientific Reports, vol 7, no. 1, 2017. Springer Nature, doi:10.1038/s41598-017-16004-1.