Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Double Duty: Immune System Regulator Found to Protect Brain from Effects of Stroke

29.11.2012
A small molecule known to regulate white blood cells has a surprising second role in protecting brain cells from the deleterious effects of stroke, Johns Hopkins researchers report. The molecule, microRNA-223, affects how cells respond to the temporary loss of blood supply brought on by stroke — and thus the cells’ likelihood of suffering permanent damage.

“We set out to find a small molecule with very specific effects in the brain, one that could be the target of a future stroke treatment,” says Valina Dawson, Ph.D., a professor in the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine’s Institute for Cell Engineering. “What we found is this molecule involved in immune response, which also acts in complex ways on the brain.

This opens up a suite of interesting questions about what microRNA-223 is doing and how, but it also presents a challenge to any therapeutic application.” A report on the discovery is published in the Nov. 13 issue of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

RNA is best known as a go-between that shuttles genetic information from DNA and then helps produce proteins based on that information. But, Dawson explains, a decade ago researchers unearthed a completely different class of RNA: small, nimble fragments that regulate protein production. In the case of microRNA, one member of this class, that control comes from the ability to bind to RNA messenger molecules carrying genetic information, and thus prevent them from delivering their messages. “Compared with most ways of shutting genes off, this one is very quick,” Dawson notes.

Reasoning that this quick action, along with other properties, could make microRNAs a good target for therapy development, Dawson and her team searched for microRNAs that regulate brain cells’ response to oxygen deprivation.

To do that, they looked for proteins that increased in number in cells subjected to stress, and then examined how production of these proteins was regulated. For many of them, microRNA-223 played a role, Dawson says.

In most cases, the proteins regulated by microRNA-223 turned out to be involved in detecting and responding to glutamate, a common chemical signal brain cells use to communicate with each other. A stroke or other injury can lead to a dangerous excess of glutamate in the brain, as can a range of diseases, including autism and Alzheimer’s.

Because microRNA-223 is involved in regulating so many different proteins, and because it affects glutamate receptors, which themselves are involved in many different processes, the molecule’s reach turned out to be much broader than expected, says Maged M. Harraz, Ph.D., a research associate at Hopkins who led the study. “Before this experiment, we didn’t appreciate that a single microRNA could regulate so many proteins,” he explains.

This finding suggests that microRNA-223 is unlikely to become a therapeutic target in the near future unless researchers figure out how to avoid unwanted side effects, Dawson says.

Other authors on the paper are Stephen M. Eacker, Ph.D., Xueqing Wang, Ph.D., and Ted M. Dawson, M.D., Ph.D., from the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine.

This work was supported by a grant from the National Institutes of Health (grant DA000266) and by a Maryland Stem Cell Research Fund fellowship.

Media Contacts:
Shawna Williams; 410-955-8236; shawna@jhmi.edu
Catherine Kolf; 443-287-2251; ckolf@jhmi.edu
Vanessa McMains; 410-502-9410; vmcmain1@jhmi.edu

Shawna Williams | EurekAlert!
Further information:
http://www.jhmi.edu

Further reports about: Brain Protect RNA Regulator brain cell cell death genetic information glutamate receptor stroke

More articles from Life Sciences:

nachricht Nerve cells with a sense of rhythm
25.08.2016 | Deutsches Primatenzentrum GmbH - Leibniz-Institut für Primatenforschung

nachricht Genetic Regulation of the Thymus Function Identified
23.08.2016 | Universität Basel

All articles from Life Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Streamlining accelerated computing for industry

PyFR code combines high accuracy with flexibility to resolve unsteady turbulence problems

Scientists and engineers striving to create the next machine-age marvel--whether it be a more aerodynamic rocket, a faster race car, or a higher-efficiency jet...

Im Focus: X-ray optics on a chip

Waveguides are widely used for filtering, confining, guiding, coupling or splitting beams of visible light. However, creating waveguides that could do the same for X-rays has posed tremendous challenges in fabrication, so they are still only in an early stage of development.

In the latest issue of Acta Crystallographica Section A: Foundations and Advances , Sarah Hoffmann-Urlaub and Tim Salditt report the fabrication and testing of...

Im Focus: Piggyback battery for microchips: TU Graz researchers develop new battery concept

Electrochemists at TU Graz have managed to use monocrystalline semiconductor silicon as an active storage electrode in lithium batteries. This enables an integrated power supply to be made for microchips with a rechargeable battery.

Small electrical gadgets, such as mobile phones, tablets or notebooks, are indispensable accompaniments of everyday life. Integrated circuits in the interiors...

Im Focus: UCI physicists confirm possible discovery of fifth force of nature

Light particle could be key to understanding dark matter in universe

Recent findings indicating the possible discovery of a previously unknown subatomic particle may be evidence of a fifth fundamental force of nature, according...

Im Focus: Wi-fi from lasers

White light from lasers demonstrates data speeds of up to 2 GB/s

A nanocrystalline material that rapidly makes white light out of blue light has been developed by KAUST researchers.

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

The energy transition is not possible without Geotechnics

25.08.2016 | Event News

New Ideas for the Shipping Industry

24.08.2016 | Event News

A week of excellence: 22 of the world’s best computer scientists and mathematicians in Heidelberg

12.08.2016 | Event News

 
Latest News

Spherical tokamak as model for next steps in fusion energy

25.08.2016 | Power and Electrical Engineering

Scientists identify spark plug that ignites nerve cell demise in ALS

25.08.2016 | Health and Medicine

Secure networks for the Internet of the future

25.08.2016 | Information Technology

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>