An antimicrobial agent found in many shampoos and hand lotions and widely used in industrial settings inhibits the development of particular neuron structures that are essential for transmitting signals between cells, according to a University of Pittsburgh study presented today at Cell Biology 2004, the 44th annual meeting of the American Society for Cell Biology. The meeting is being held Dec. 4 – 8 at the Washington Convention Center.
Prolonged exposure to low levels of methylisothiazolinone (MIT) restricted growth of axons and dendrites of immature rat nerve cells in culture, apparently by disengaging the machinery of a key enzyme that is activated in response to cell-to-cell contact, and may have potentially damaging consequences to a developing nervous system, the researchers report. "While more research is needed to determine what effect MIT would have in rodent models, both at the cellular level and to a developing nervous system, our results thus far suggest there is potential that everyday exposure to the chemical could also be harmful to humans. I would be particularly concerned about occupational exposure in pregnant women and the possibility of risk to the fetus," said senior author Elias Aizenman, Ph.D., professor of neurobiology at the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine.
Dr. Aizenman became interested in MIT as an offshoot to his primary area of research on the mechanisms of neuronal cell death. The first he heard of the chemical was when its name came up in a literature search for compounds with specific chemical properties that he thought would incite a particular cell death pathway he recently had identified. As it turned out, MIT activated a different, novel pathway, but Dr. Aizenman remained intrigued, in large part because of the considerable lack of scientific data about a compound that he came to realize was listed on numerous consumer product labels and was very widely used in industry.
Lisa Rossi | EurekAlert!
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Plants and algae use the enzyme Rubisco to fix carbon dioxide, removing it from the atmosphere and converting it into biomass. Algae have figured out a way to increase the efficiency of carbon fixation. They gather most of their Rubisco into a ball-shaped microcompartment called the pyrenoid, which they flood with a high local concentration of carbon dioxide. A team of scientists at Princeton University, the Carnegie Institution for Science, Stanford University and the Max Plank Institute of Biochemistry have unravelled the mysteries of how the pyrenoid is assembled. These insights can help to engineer crops that remove more carbon dioxide from the atmosphere while producing more food.
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Our brains house extremely complex neuronal circuits, whose detailed structures are still largely unknown. This is especially true for the so-called cerebral cortex of mammals, where among other things vision, thoughts or spatial orientation are being computed. Here the rules by which nerve cells are connected to each other are only partly understood. A team of scientists around Moritz Helmstaedter at the Frankfiurt Max Planck Institute for Brain Research and Helene Schmidt (Humboldt University in Berlin) have now discovered a surprisingly precise nerve cell connectivity pattern in the part of the cerebral cortex that is responsible for orienting the individual animal or human in space.
The researchers report online in Nature (Schmidt et al., 2017. Axonal synapse sorting in medial entorhinal cortex, DOI: 10.1038/nature24005) that synapses in...
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Using ultrafast flashes of laser and x-ray radiation, scientists at the Max Planck Institute of Quantum Optics (Garching, Germany) took snapshots of the briefest electron motion inside a solid material to date. The electron motion lasted only 750 billionths of the billionth of a second before it fainted, setting a new record of human capability to capture ultrafast processes inside solids!
When x-rays shine onto solid materials or large molecules, an electron is pushed away from its original place near the nucleus of the atom, leaving a hole...
For the first time, physicists have successfully imaged spiral magnetic ordering in a multiferroic material. These materials are considered highly promising candidates for future data storage media. The researchers were able to prove their findings using unique quantum sensors that were developed at Basel University and that can analyze electromagnetic fields on the nanometer scale. The results – obtained by scientists from the University of Basel’s Department of Physics, the Swiss Nanoscience Institute, the University of Montpellier and several laboratories from University Paris-Saclay – were recently published in the journal Nature.
Multiferroics are materials that simultaneously react to electric and magnetic fields. These two properties are rarely found together, and their combined...
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