Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Study shows a solitary mutation can destroy critical 'window' of early brain development

24.06.2013
Scientists from the Florida campus of The Scripps Research Institute (TSRI) have shown in animal models that brain damage caused by the loss of a single copy of a gene during very early childhood development can cause a lifetime of behavioral and intellectual problems.

The study, published this week in the Journal of Neuroscience, sheds new light on the early development of neural circuits in the cortex, the part of the brain responsible for functions such as sensory perception, planning and decision-making.

The research also pinpoints the mechanism responsible for the disruption of what are known as "windows of plasticity" that contribute to the refinement of the neural connections that broadly shape brain development and the maturing of perception, language, and cognitive abilities.

The key to normal development of these abilities is that the neural connections in the brain cortex—the synapses—mature at the right time.

In an earlier study, the team, led by TSRI Associate Professor Gavin Rumbaugh, found that in mice missing a single copy of the vital gene, certain synapses develop prematurely within the first few weeks after birth. This accelerated maturation dramatically expands the process known as "excitability"—how often brain cells fire—in the hippocampus, a part of the brain critical for memory. The delicate balance between excitability and inhibition is especially critical during early developmental periods. However, it remained a mystery how early maturation of brain circuits could lead to lifelong cognitive and behavioral problems.

The current study shows in mice that the interruption of the synapse-regulating gene known as SYNGAP1—which can cause a devastating form of intellectual disability and increase the risk for developing autism in humans—induces early functional maturation of neural connections in two areas of the cortex. The influence of this disruption is widespread throughout the developing brain and appears to degrade the duration of these critical windows of plasticity.

"In this study, we were able to directly connect early maturation of synapses to the loss of an important plasticity window in the cortex," Rumbaugh said. "Early maturation of synapses appears to make the brain less plastic at critical times in development. Children with these mutations appear to have brains that were built incorrectly from the ground up."

The accelerated maturation also appeared to occur surprisingly early in the developing cortex. That, Rumbaugh added, would correspond to the first two years of a child's life, when the brain is expanding rapidly. "Our goal now is to figure out a way to prevent the damage caused by SYNGAP1 mutations. We would be more likely to help that child if we could intervene very early on—before the mutation has done its damage," he said.

The first author of the study, "SYNGAP1 Links the Maturation Rate of Excitatory Synapses to the Duration of Critical-Period Synaptic Plasticity," is James P. Clement of TSRI. Other authors include Emin D. Ozkan, Massimiliano Aceti and Courtney A. Miller, also of TSRI. For more information, see http://www.jneurosci.org/content/33/25/10447.full

This work was supported by the National Institute for Neurological Disorders and Stroke (grant R01NS064079), the National Institute for Mental Health (grant R01MH096847) and the National Institute for Drug Abuse (grants R01 DA034116 and R03 DA033499).

Eric Sauter | EurekAlert!
Further information:
http://www.scripps.edu

More articles from Studies and Analyses:

nachricht New study: How does Europe become a leading player for software and IT services?
03.04.2017 | Fraunhofer-Institut für System- und Innovationsforschung (ISI)

nachricht Reusable carbon nanotubes could be the water filter of the future, says RIT study
30.03.2017 | Rochester Institute of Technology

All articles from Studies and Analyses >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

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

Im Focus: Making lightweight construction suitable for series production

More and more automobile companies are focusing on body parts made of carbon fiber reinforced plastics (CFRP). However, manufacturing and repair costs must be further reduced in order to make CFRP more economical in use. Together with the Volkswagen AG and five other partners in the project HolQueSt 3D, the Laser Zentrum Hannover e.V. (LZH) has developed laser processes for the automatic trimming, drilling and repair of three-dimensional components.

Automated manufacturing processes are the basis for ultimately establishing the series production of CFRP components. In the project HolQueSt 3D, the LZH has...

Im Focus: Wonder material? Novel nanotube structure strengthens thin films for flexible electronics

Reflecting the structure of composites found in nature and the ancient world, researchers at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign have synthesized thin carbon nanotube (CNT) textiles that exhibit both high electrical conductivity and a level of toughness that is about fifty times higher than copper films, currently used in electronics.

"The structural robustness of thin metal films has significant importance for the reliable operation of smart skin and flexible electronics including...

Im Focus: Deep inside Galaxy M87

The nearby, giant radio galaxy M87 hosts a supermassive black hole (BH) and is well-known for its bright jet dominating the spectrum over ten orders of magnitude in frequency. Due to its proximity, jet prominence, and the large black hole mass, M87 is the best laboratory for investigating the formation, acceleration, and collimation of relativistic jets. A research team led by Silke Britzen from the Max Planck Institute for Radio Astronomy in Bonn, Germany, has found strong indication for turbulent processes connecting the accretion disk and the jet of that galaxy providing insights into the longstanding problem of the origin of astrophysical jets.

Supermassive black holes form some of the most enigmatic phenomena in astrophysics. Their enormous energy output is supposed to be generated by the...

Im Focus: A Quantum Low Pass for Photons

Physicists in Garching observe novel quantum effect that limits the number of emitted photons.

The probability to find a certain number of photons inside a laser pulse usually corresponds to a classical distribution of independent events, the so-called...

Im Focus: Microprocessors based on a layer of just three atoms

Microprocessors based on atomically thin materials hold the promise of the evolution of traditional processors as well as new applications in the field of flexible electronics. Now, a TU Wien research team led by Thomas Müller has made a breakthrough in this field as part of an ongoing research project.

Two-dimensional materials, or 2D materials for short, are extremely versatile, although – or often more precisely because – they are made up of just one or a...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

Fighting drug resistant tuberculosis – InfectoGnostics meets MYCO-NET² partners in Peru

28.04.2017 | Event News

Expert meeting “Health Business Connect” will connect international medical technology companies

20.04.2017 | Event News

Wenn der Computer das Gehirn austrickst

18.04.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

Wireless power can drive tiny electronic devices in the GI tract

28.04.2017 | Medical Engineering

Ice cave in Transylvania yields window into region's past

28.04.2017 | Earth Sciences

Nose2Brain – Better Therapy for Multiple Sclerosis

28.04.2017 | Life Sciences

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>