Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Flipping a Switch on Neuron Activity

08.03.2011
Researchers in California and Germany Demonstrate Light-Activated Receptors on Nerve Cells

All our daily activities, from driving to work to solving a crossword puzzle, depend on signals carried along the body's vast network of neurons. Propagation of these signals is, in turn, dependent on myriad small molecules within nerve cells -- receptors, ion channels, and transmitters -- turning on and off in complex cascades.

Until recently, the study of these molecules in real time has not been possible, but researchers at the University of California at Berkeley and the University of Munich have attached light-sensing modules to neuronal molecules, resulting in molecules that can be turned on and off with simple flashes of light.

“We get millisecond accuracy,” says Joshua Levitz, a graduate student at Berkeley and first author of the study. According to Levitz, the “biggest advantage is that we can probe specific receptors in living organisms.” Previous methods using pharmacological agents were much less specific, affecting every receptor in every cell. Now, investigators can select individual cells for activation by focusing light. And by attaching light-sensing modules to one class of molecules at a time, they can parse the contributions of individual classes to neuronal behavior.

Levitz will be presenting a system in which G-protein-coupled receptors, molecules that play key roles in transmitting signals within cells, can be selectively activated. He is planning to use the system to study the hippocampus, a region of the brain where memories are formed, stored and maintained. There may be clinical utility to the system as well, he points out. G-protein-coupled receptors are also critical for vision in the retina, and light-sensing versions could potentially be introduced into people with damaged retinas in order to restore sight.

The presentation, “Design and Application of a Light-Activated Metabotropic Glutamate Receptor for Optical Control of Intracellular Signaling Pathways” will be presented at 8:30 a.m. on March 7, 2011 in Room 309 of the Baltimore Convention Center. ABSTRACT: http://tinyurl.com/4lf9dse

The research was funded by the Nanomedicine Development Center at the National Institutes of Health.

MORE MEETING INFORMATION

Each year, the Biophysical Society Annual Meeting brings together more than 6,000 scientists and hosts more than 4,000 poster presentations, 200 exhibits, and more than 20 symposia. The largest meeting of its type in the world, the Biophysical Society Annual Meeting retains its small-meeting flavor through its subgroup meetings, platform sessions, social activities, and committee programs.

QUICK LINKS
Meeting Home Page:
http://www.biophysics.org/2011meeting
General Meeting Information:
http://www.biophysics.org/GeneralInfo/Overview/tabid/2062/Default.aspx
Search abstracts:
http://www.abstractsonline.com/plan/start.aspx?mkey={FEA830A5-24AD-47F3-8E61-FCA29F5FEF34}
PRESS REGISTRATION
The Biophysical Society invites credentialed journalists, freelance reporters working on assignment, and public information officers to attend its Annual Meeting for free. For more information on registering as a member of the press, please contact Ellen Weiss at eweiss@biophysics.org or 240-290-5606. Also see: http://www.biophysics.org/Registration/Press/tabid/2148/Default.aspx
ABOUT THE BIOPHYICAL SOCIETY
The Biophysical Society, founded in 1956, is a professional, scientific society established to encourage development and dissemination of knowledge in biophysics. The society promotes growth in this expanding field through its annual meeting, monthly journal, and committee and outreach activities. Its over 9,000 members are located throughout the U.S. and the world, where they teach and conduct research in colleges, universities, laboratories, government agencies, and industry. For more information on the society or the 2011 Annual Meeting, visit www.biophysics.org

Ellen R. Weiss | Newswise Science News
Further information:
http://www.biophysics.org

More articles from Life Sciences:

nachricht Fine organic particles in the atmosphere are more often solid glass beads than liquid oil droplets
21.04.2017 | Max-Planck-Institut für Chemie

nachricht Study overturns seminal research about the developing nervous system
21.04.2017 | University of California - Los Angeles Health Sciences

All articles from Life Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

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

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...

Im Focus: Quantum-physical Model System

Computer-assisted methods aid Heidelberg physicists in reproducing experiment with ultracold atoms

Two researchers at Heidelberg University have developed a model system that enables a better understanding of the processes in a quantum-physical experiment...

Im Focus: Glacier bacteria’s contribution to carbon cycling

Glaciers might seem rather inhospitable environments. However, they are home to a diverse and vibrant microbial community. It’s becoming increasingly clear that they play a bigger role in the carbon cycle than previously thought.

A new study, now published in the journal Nature Geoscience, shows how microbial communities in melting glaciers contribute to the Earth’s carbon cycle, a...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

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

7th International Conference on Crystalline Silicon Photovoltaics in Freiburg on April 3-5, 2017

03.04.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

New quantum liquid crystals may play role in future of computers

21.04.2017 | Physics and Astronomy

A promising target for kidney fibrosis

21.04.2017 | Health and Medicine

Light rays from a supernova bent by the curvature of space-time around a galaxy

21.04.2017 | Physics and Astronomy

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>