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 Europe’s Demographic Future. Where the Regions Are Heading after a Decade of Crises
10.08.2017 | Berlin-Institut für Bevölkerung und Entwicklung

nachricht Scientists reveal source of human heartbeat in 3-D
07.08.2017 | University of Manchester

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: Fizzy soda water could be key to clean manufacture of flat wonder material: Graphene

Whether you call it effervescent, fizzy, or sparkling, carbonated water is making a comeback as a beverage. Aside from quenching thirst, researchers at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign have discovered a new use for these "bubbly" concoctions that will have major impact on the manufacturer of the world's thinnest, flattest, and one most useful materials -- graphene.

As graphene's popularity grows as an advanced "wonder" material, the speed and quality at which it can be manufactured will be paramount. With that in mind,...

Im Focus: Exotic quantum states made from light: Physicists create optical “wells” for a super-photon

Physicists at the University of Bonn have managed to create optical hollows and more complex patterns into which the light of a Bose-Einstein condensate flows. The creation of such highly low-loss structures for light is a prerequisite for complex light circuits, such as for quantum information processing for a new generation of computers. The researchers are now presenting their results in the journal Nature Photonics.

Light particles (photons) occur as tiny, indivisible portions. Many thousands of these light portions can be merged to form a single super-photon if they are...

Im Focus: Circular RNA linked to brain function

For the first time, scientists have shown that circular RNA is linked to brain function. When a RNA molecule called Cdr1as was deleted from the genome of mice, the animals had problems filtering out unnecessary information – like patients suffering from neuropsychiatric disorders.

While hundreds of circular RNAs (circRNAs) are abundant in mammalian brains, one big question has remained unanswered: What are they actually good for? In the...

Im Focus: RAVAN CubeSat measures Earth's outgoing energy

An experimental small satellite has successfully collected and delivered data on a key measurement for predicting changes in Earth's climate.

The Radiometer Assessment using Vertically Aligned Nanotubes (RAVAN) CubeSat was launched into low-Earth orbit on Nov. 11, 2016, in order to test new...

Im Focus: Scientists shine new light on the “other high temperature superconductor”

A study led by scientists of the Max Planck Institute for the Structure and Dynamics of Matter (MPSD) at the Center for Free-Electron Laser Science in Hamburg presents evidence of the coexistence of superconductivity and “charge-density-waves” in compounds of the poorly-studied family of bismuthates. This observation opens up new perspectives for a deeper understanding of the phenomenon of high-temperature superconductivity, a topic which is at the core of condensed matter research since more than 30 years. The paper by Nicoletti et al has been published in the PNAS.

Since the beginning of the 20th century, superconductivity had been observed in some metals at temperatures only a few degrees above the absolute zero (minus...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

Call for Papers – ICNFT 2018, 5th International Conference on New Forming Technology

16.08.2017 | Event News

Sustainability is the business model of tomorrow

04.08.2017 | Event News

Clash of Realities 2017: Registration now open. International Conference at TH Köln

26.07.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

What the world's tiniest 'monster truck' reveals

23.08.2017 | Life Sciences

Treating arthritis with algae

23.08.2017 | Life Sciences

Witnessing turbulent motion in the atmosphere of a distant star

23.08.2017 | Physics and Astronomy

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>