A team of scientists from The University of Alabama used worms to reel in information that they hope will lead to a greater understanding of cellular mechanisms that may be exploited to treat epilepsy.
In a new research report in the journal GENETICS (http://www.genetics.org), the researchers explain how the transparent roundworm, C. elegans, helped them identify key "molecular switches" that control the transport of a molecule (gamma-aminobutyric acid or "GABA") that if manipulated within our cells, might prevent the onset of seizures.
"It is our hope that this work serves to accelerate the path toward the identification of genetic factors that cause a susceptibility to epilepsy," said Guy A. Caldwell, Ph.D., co-author of the study from the Department of Biological Sciences at The University of Alabama in Tuscaloosa. "Simultaneously, this work has the potential to uncover new avenues toward therapeutic development to control or prevent seizures in the future."
To make this finding, the researchers conducted experiments involving drugs known to affect neuronal activity in combination with DNA mutations in genetic factors shared between C. elegans and humans. Changes in the worm's neuronal activity led to repetitive convulsions believed to be similar to those experienced in epilepsy. These convulsions were observed under a microscope, and videos of those events were used to evaluate the severity of the neuronal changes. At the same time, the researchers used a green fluorescent protein to "tag" or "label" the cellular locale and delivery of GABA in neurons. This tagging allowed the researchers to see the specific genetic factors that led to abnormal movement of GABA in neurons as they coincided with worm seizures and to make appropriate comparisons with worms from the control group.
"Although much more work must be done before new drugs can be developed for people, these findings could offer hope to people with this devastating and frustrating condition," said Mark Johnston, Editor-in-Chief of GENETICS. "It may be hard to believe, but the cellular processes that occur in these worms are likely to be similar to those in humans. This work has the potential to significantly advance our understanding of what causes seizures in people, and could point the way to a remedy."
Since 1916, GENETICS (http://www.genetics.org) has covered high quality, original research on a range of topics bearing on inheritance, including population and evolutionary genetics, complex traits, developmental and behavioral genetics, cellular genetics, gene expression, genome integrity and transmission, and genome and systems biology. GENETICS, the peer-reviewed, peer-edited journal of the Genetics Society of America is one of the world's most cited journals in genetics and heredity.
Article Details: Cody J. Locke, Bwarenaba B. Kautu, Kalen P. Berry, S. Kyle Lee, Kim A. Caldwell, and Guy A. Caldwell. (2009). Pharmacogenetic Analysis Reveals a Post-Developmental Role for Rac GTPases in Caenorhabditis elegans GABAergic Neurotransmission. GENETICS. doi: 10.1534/genetics.109.106880
Tracey DePellegrin Connelly | EurekAlert!
Multi-institutional collaboration uncovers how molecular machines assemble
02.12.2016 | Salk Institute
Fertilized egg cells trigger and monitor loss of sperm’s epigenetic memory
02.12.2016 | IMBA - Institut für Molekulare Biotechnologie der Österreichischen Akademie der Wissenschaften GmbH
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...
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...
The Max Planck Institute for Physics (MPP) is opening up a new research field. A workshop from November 21 - 22, 2016 will mark the start of activities for an innovative axion experiment. Axions are still only purely hypothetical particles. Their detection could solve two fundamental problems in particle physics: What dark matter consists of and why it has not yet been possible to directly observe a CP violation for the strong interaction.
The “MADMAX” project is the MPP’s commitment to axion research. Axions are so far only a theoretical prediction and are difficult to detect: on the one hand,...
Broadband rotational spectroscopy unravels structural reshaping of isolated molecules in the gas phase to accommodate water
In two recent publications in the Journal of Chemical Physics and in the Journal of Physical Chemistry Letters, researchers around Melanie Schnell from the Max...
The efficiency of power electronic systems is not solely dependent on electrical efficiency but also on weight, for example, in mobile systems. When the weight of relevant components and devices in airplanes, for instance, is reduced, fuel savings can be achieved and correspondingly greenhouse gas emissions decreased. New materials and components based on gallium nitride (GaN) can help to reduce weight and increase the efficiency. With these new materials, power electronic switches can be operated at higher switching frequency, resulting in higher power density and lower material costs.
Researchers at the Fraunhofer Institute for Solar Energy Systems ISE together with partners have investigated how these materials can be used to make power...
16.11.2016 | Event News
01.11.2016 | Event News
14.10.2016 | Event News
02.12.2016 | Medical Engineering
02.12.2016 | Agricultural and Forestry Science
02.12.2016 | Physics and Astronomy