Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Berlin’s neuroscientists decode important mechanism of nerve cell communication

21.12.2011
By researching fruit flies, neuroscientists of the NeuroCure Cluster of Excellence in Berlin were able to gain a better understanding of a meaningful mechanism of neuronal communication.

They demonstrated the importance of a specific protein for signal transmission between nerve cells. This is of high significance as certain people with autism – a functional development disturbances of the brain – suffer from genetic defects in this protein. Therefore the findings could improve the possibility of treating this disease more effectively. The results are presented in the latest issue of the professional journal Science.

When our brain is at work, for example when we are looking at a picture or planning a movement, its nerve cells communicate with each other. For this purpose they are equipped with specific points of contact, so called synapses. Both sides of a synapse are specialised and have a complex setup which makes sure that the transmission of information from an individual synapse is only ever possible in one direction. The sender – the presynaptic side – is filled with a neurotransmitter that is released in the direction of the recipient – the postsynaptic side – upon an electric command.

Although this may sound simple, it is a highly complicated biochemical process that takes place in less than a millisecond and is strictly controlled in terms of space and time. A great number of specialised proteins are required to cooperate and enable an optimal release of the neurotransmitter. The “RIM binding protein” (RBP) plays an important part in this respect. As demonstrated by the scientists of the NeuroCure Cluster of Excellence surrounding Stephan Sigrist (Freie Universität Berlin) and Dietmar Schmitz (Charité – Universitätsmedizin Berlin and Deutsches Zentrum für Neurodegenerative Erkrankungen), the RBP-protein is of great significance for releasing the neurotransmitter.

The neuroscientists used the fruit fly as a model organism. Thanks to the simple setup of its brain and synapses it is ideal for experimental examinations. At the same time, the fly’s synaptic proteins are very similar to those of humans due to common descent dating back hundreds of million years ago. Through functional experiments and a new method of high-resolution microscopy, the scientists gained insights into previously unknown areas where the transmission takes place. The neuroscientists found out that the RBP-protein holds a key position in the fruit fly’s presynapsis. It is necessary for effectively connecting the release of the neurotransmitter to the electric command, which enables the sensible communication between nerve cells.

There are more and more indications that genetic defects in the RBP-proteins are an important aspect of autism in humans. The initial functional description of the fruit fly’s RBP-protein therefore does not only extend our comprehension of neuronal communication, it also provides a reference point to help understand brain malfunctions that occur with autism. For this reason the neuroscientists are hoping to contribute to the fundamental principles of a more effective treatment.

NeuroCure is a Cluster of Excellence in the framework of the Excellence Initiative funded by the German federal and state governments since 2007. The interdisciplinary research alliance crosslinks fundamental neuroscientific research and clinical application to transfer scientific findings on the functioning of the nervous system and neurological diseases to effective therapies.

Contact:
Stephan Sigrist
Freie Universität Berlin
Takustr. 6
D-14195 Berlin
Tel: +49 (0)30 838-56940
E-mail: stephan.sigrist@fu-berlin.de

Carsten Wette | idw
Further information:
http://www.neurocure.de
http://www.fu-berlin.de

More articles from Life Sciences:

nachricht Researchers identify potentially druggable mutant p53 proteins that promote cancer growth
09.12.2016 | Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory

nachricht Plant-based substance boosts eyelash growth
09.12.2016 | Fraunhofer-Institut für Angewandte Polymerforschung IAP

All articles from Life Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

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

Im Focus: Electron highway inside crystal

Physicists of the University of Würzburg have made an astonishing discovery in a specific type of topological insulators. The effect is due to the structure of the materials used. The researchers have now published their work in the journal Science.

Topological insulators are currently the hot topic in physics according to the newspaper Neue Zürcher Zeitung. Only a few weeks ago, their importance was...

Im Focus: Significantly more productivity in USP lasers

In recent years, lasers with ultrashort pulses (USP) down to the femtosecond range have become established on an industrial scale. They could advance some applications with the much-lauded “cold ablation” – if that meant they would then achieve more throughput. A new generation of process engineering that will address this issue in particular will be discussed at the “4th UKP Workshop – Ultrafast Laser Technology” in April 2017.

Even back in the 1990s, scientists were comparing materials processing with nanosecond, picosecond and femtosesecond pulses. The result was surprising:...

Im Focus: Shape matters when light meets atom

Mapping the interaction of a single atom with a single photon may inform design of quantum devices

Have you ever wondered how you see the world? Vision is about photons of light, which are packets of energy, interacting with the atoms or molecules in what...

Im Focus: Novel silicon etching technique crafts 3-D gradient refractive index micro-optics

A multi-institutional research collaboration has created a novel approach for fabricating three-dimensional micro-optics through the shape-defined formation of porous silicon (PSi), with broad impacts in integrated optoelectronics, imaging, and photovoltaics.

Working with colleagues at Stanford and The Dow Chemical Company, researchers at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign fabricated 3-D birefringent...

Im Focus: Quantum Particles Form Droplets

In experiments with magnetic atoms conducted at extremely low temperatures, scientists have demonstrated a unique phase of matter: The atoms form a new type of quantum liquid or quantum droplet state. These so called quantum droplets may preserve their form in absence of external confinement because of quantum effects. The joint team of experimental physicists from Innsbruck and theoretical physicists from Hannover report on their findings in the journal Physical Review X.

“Our Quantum droplets are in the gas phase but they still drop like a rock,” explains experimental physicist Francesca Ferlaino when talking about the...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

ICTM Conference 2017: Production technology for turbomachine manufacturing of the future

16.11.2016 | Event News

Innovation Day Laser Technology – Laser Additive Manufacturing

01.11.2016 | Event News

#IC2S2: When Social Science meets Computer Science - GESIS will host the IC2S2 conference 2017

14.10.2016 | Event News

 
Latest News

Researchers identify potentially druggable mutant p53 proteins that promote cancer growth

09.12.2016 | Life Sciences

Scientists produce a new roadmap for guiding development & conservation in the Amazon

09.12.2016 | Ecology, The Environment and Conservation

Satellites, airport visibility readings shed light on troops' exposure to air pollution

09.12.2016 | Health and Medicine

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>