Laurence Trussell, Ph.D.

Larry Trussell, PhD

Professor, Oregon Hearing Research Center

Joint Appointment, Vollum Institute


Laurence Trussell received his Ph.D. in Biology from the University of California, Los Angeles in 1983. After initial postdoctoral work at UCLA, he obtained further training at Washington University, St. Louis. In 1990, he received a faculty appointment at the University of Wisconsin, Madison. In 1999, he was appointed as professor in the Oregon Hearing Research Center (OHRC) at OHSU with an appointment as scientist at the Vollum Institute.

Summary of current research

Using chemical and electrical signals, neurons preserve, process, and integrate information about sensory stimuli in the environment. Each sensory modality presents the brain with special challenges. These challenges are met by unique neuronal circuitry and by unique cellular characteristics in the neurons themselves. Laurence Trussell and his associates are interested in the fine tuning of membrane properties and synapses requisite to the incredible feats of computation performed in the auditory system, where even microsecond differences in signals have behavioral consequences.

The Trussell lab works on neurons in the cochlear nuclei and trapezoid body because their synapses offer the opportunity to study synaptic transmission at high resolution and because the investigators can relate findings about cellular mechanisms to activity measured in vivo. Patch-clamp analyses reveal that these neurons express a complement of glutamate receptors and potassium channels that enable the cells to fire reliably in response to incoming stimuli, thus passaging signals with little temporal jitter. The lab is finding that mechanisms of neurotransmitter release and clearance are also fine-tuned to the tasks of preserving timing information. Moreover, these neurons express presynaptic receptors that regulate electrical activity in unusual ways. Trussell and colleagues employ electrophysiological and optical approaches to reveal how single synapses participate in this process. Other studies in the lab are directed toward understanding the mechanisms and functions of long-term synaptic plasticities within auditory circuits.

Balmer TS, Borges-Merjane C, Trussell LO. (2021) Incomplete removal of extracellular glutamate controls synaptic transmission and integration at a cerebellar synapse. eLife 10:e63819.

Ngodup T, Romero GE, Trussell LO. (2020) Identification of an inhibitory neuron subtype, the L-stellate cell of the cochlear nucleus. eLife 9:e54350.

Balmer TS, Trussell LO. (2019) Selective targeting of unipolar brush cell subtypes by cerebellar mossy fibers. eLife 8:e44964.

Moore AK, Weible AP, Balmer TS, Trussell LO, Wehr M. (2018) Rapid rebalancing of excitation and inhibition by cortical circuitry. Neuron 97:1341-1355. 

Irie T, Trussell LO. (2017) Double-nanodomain coupling of calcium channels, ryanodine receptors, and BK channels controls the generation of burst firing. Neuron 96:856-870.

Lu HW, Balmer TS, Romero GE, Trussell LO. (2017) Slow AMPAR synaptic transmission is determined by stargazin and glutamate transporters. Neuron. 96:73-80.

Moore LA, Trussell LO. (2017) Corelease of inhibitory neurotransmitters in the mouse auditory midbrain. J. Neurosci. 37:9453-9464.

Tang ZQ, Trussell LO. (2017) Serotonergic modulation of sensory representation in a central multisensory circuit is pathway specific. Cell Reports 20:1844-1854.

Yaeger DB, Trussell LO. (2016) Auditory Golgi cells are interconnected predominantly by electrical synapses. J. Neurophysiol. 116:540-551.

Lu HW, Trussell LO. (2016) Spontaneous activity defines effective convergence ratios in an inhibitory circuit. J. Neurosci. 36:3268-3280.

Irie T, Trussell LO. (2017) Double-nanodomain coupling of calcium channels, ryanodine receptors, and BK channels controls the generation of burst firing. Neuron 96:856-870.

Borges-Merjane C, Trussell LO. (2015) ON and OFF unipolar brush cells transform multisensory inputs to the auditory system. Neuron 85:1029-1042.

Apostolides PF, Trussell LO. (2013) Regulation of interneuron excitability by gap junction coupling with principal cells. Nature Neurosci. 16:1764-1772.

Kuo SP, Trussell LO. (2011) Spontaneous spiking and synaptic depression underlie noradrenergic control of feed-forward inhibition. Neuron 71:306-318.

Bender KJ, Trussell LO. (2009) Axon initial segment Ca2+ channels influence action potential generation and timing. Neuron 61:259-271.

Awatramani GB, Price GD, Trussell LO. (2005) Modulation of transmitter release by presynaptic resting potential and background calcium levels. Neuron 48:109-121.

Turecek R, Trussell LO. (2001) Presynaptic glycine receptors enhance transmitter release at a mammalian central synapse. Nature 411:587-590.

Lu T, Trussell LO. (2000) Inhibitory transmission mediated by asynchronous transmitter release. Neuron 26:683-694.

Raman IM, Zhang S, Trussell LO. (1994) Pathway-specific variants of AMPA receptors and their contribution to neuronal signaling. J. Neurosci. 14:4998-5010.

Trussell LO, Zhang S, Raman IM. (1993) Desensitization of AMPA receptors upon multiquantal neurotransmitter release. Neuron 10:1185-1196.