Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

The architects of the brain

26.10.2011
Bochum’s neurobiologists have found that certain receptors for the neurotransmitter glutamate determine the architecture of nerve cells in the developing brain.

Individual receptor variants lead to especially long and branched processes called dendrites, which the cells communicate with. The researchers also showed that the growth-promoting property of the receptors is linked to how much calcium they allow to flow into the cells. “These results allow insights into the mechanisms with which nerve cells connect during development”, says Prof. Dr. Petra Wahle from the RUB Working Group on Developmental Neurobiology. The scientists report in Development.


Growth of dendritic processes: When glutamate docks on to the AMPA receptor, calcium ions flow into the nerve cell. They cause the production of special growth molecules which trigger the extension and branching of the dendrites. AG Entwicklungsneurobiologie


Effect of a glutamate receptor: The researchers compared the architecture of special inhibitory nerve cells (interneurons) with low and high numbers of a specific glutamate receptor (GluA1(Q)-flip). Cells with a high number of GluA1(Q)-flip (right) had longer and more branched dendritic processes than cells in which the receptor only occurred rarely (left). AG Entwicklungsneurobiologie

It all depends on a few amino acids

“Nerve cells communicate with chemical and electrical signals”, explains Wahle. “The electrical activity controls many developmental processes in the brain, and the neurotransmitter glutamate plays a decisive role in this.” In two different cell classes in the cerebral cortex of rats, the researchers studied the nine most common variants of a glutamate receptor, the so-called AMPA receptor. When glutamate docks on to this receptor, calcium ions flow into the nerve cells either directly through a pore in the AMPA receptor or through adjacent calcium channels. Depending on the variant, AMPA receptors consist of 800-900 amino acid building blocks, and already the exchange of one amino acid has important consequences for the calcium permeability. Among other things, calcium promotes the growth of new dendrites.

Different cell types, different mechanisms

One at a time, the Bochum team introduced the nine AMPA receptor variants into the nerve cells and observed the impact on the cell architecture. In several cases, this resulted in longer dendrites with more branches. This pattern was demonstrated both for several receptor variants that allow calcium ions to flow directly into the cell through a pore and for those that activate adjacent calcium channels. “It was surprising that in the two cell classes studied, different receptor variants triggered the growth of the dendrites”, says Dr. Mohammad Hamad from the Working Group on Developmental Neurobiology. “In the inhibitory interneurons, only one of the nine variants was effective. Calcium signals are like a toolbox. However, different cell classes in the cerebral cortex make use of the toolbox in different ways.”

Bibliographic record

Hamad, M. I., Ma-Hogemeier, Z. L., Riedel, C., Conrads, C., Veitinger, T., Habijan, T., Schulz, J. N., Krause, M., Wirth, M. J., Hollmann, M., Wahle, P. (2011) Cell class-specific regulation of neocortical dendrite and spine growth by AMPA receptor splice and editing variants. Development 138, 4301-4313, doi: 10.1242/dev.07107

Further information

Prof. Dr. Petra Wahle, AG Entwicklungsneurobiologie, Faculty of Biology and Biotechnology at the Ruhr-Universität, 44780 Bochum, Tel.: 0234/32-24367

wahle@neurobiologie.ruhr-uni-bochum.de

Dr. Josef König | idw
Further information:
http://www.ruhr-uni-bochum.de/

More articles from Life Sciences:

nachricht The birth of a new protein
20.10.2017 | University of Arizona

nachricht Building New Moss Factories
20.10.2017 | Albert-Ludwigs-Universität Freiburg im Breisgau

All articles from Life Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

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

Im Focus: Neutron star merger directly observed for the first time

University of Maryland researchers contribute to historic detection of gravitational waves and light created by event

On August 17, 2017, at 12:41:04 UTC, scientists made the first direct observation of a merger between two neutron stars--the dense, collapsed cores that remain...

Im Focus: Breaking: the first light from two neutron stars merging

Seven new papers describe the first-ever detection of light from a gravitational wave source. The event, caused by two neutron stars colliding and merging together, was dubbed GW170817 because it sent ripples through space-time that reached Earth on 2017 August 17. Around the world, hundreds of excited astronomers mobilized quickly and were able to observe the event using numerous telescopes, providing a wealth of new data.

Previous detections of gravitational waves have all involved the merger of two black holes, a feat that won the 2017 Nobel Prize in Physics earlier this month....

Im Focus: Smart sensors for efficient processes

Material defects in end products can quickly result in failures in many areas of industry, and have a massive impact on the safe use of their products. This is why, in the field of quality assurance, intelligent, nondestructive sensor systems play a key role. They allow testing components and parts in a rapid and cost-efficient manner without destroying the actual product or changing its surface. Experts from the Fraunhofer IZFP in Saarbrücken will be presenting two exhibits at the Blechexpo in Stuttgart from 7–10 November 2017 that allow fast, reliable, and automated characterization of materials and detection of defects (Hall 5, Booth 5306).

When quality testing uses time-consuming destructive test methods, it can result in enormous costs due to damaging or destroying the products. And given that...

Im Focus: Cold molecules on collision course

Using a new cooling technique MPQ scientists succeed at observing collisions in a dense beam of cold and slow dipolar molecules.

How do chemical reactions proceed at extremely low temperatures? The answer requires the investigation of molecular samples that are cold, dense, and slow at...

Im Focus: Shrinking the proton again!

Scientists from the Max Planck Institute of Quantum Optics, using high precision laser spectroscopy of atomic hydrogen, confirm the surprisingly small value of the proton radius determined from muonic hydrogen.

It was one of the breakthroughs of the year 2010: Laser spectroscopy of muonic hydrogen resulted in a value for the proton charge radius that was significantly...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

ASEAN Member States discuss the future role of renewable energy

17.10.2017 | Event News

World Health Summit 2017: International experts set the course for the future of Global Health

10.10.2017 | Event News

Climate Engineering Conference 2017 Opens in Berlin

10.10.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

Terahertz spectroscopy goes nano

20.10.2017 | Information Technology

Strange but true: Turning a material upside down can sometimes make it softer

20.10.2017 | Materials Sciences

NRL clarifies valley polarization for electronic and optoelectronic technologies

20.10.2017 | Interdisciplinary Research

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>