"Knowledge about the mechanisms that diversify neurons and keep them diverse is necessary in order to cultivate and replace nerve cells in the future," says Mattias Alenius, Assistant Professor of Neuroscience, who has published his research breakthrough in the current issue of the journal PLoS Biology.
The magenta-colored structures are nerve cells that use odorant receptor 47b, which senses pheromones. Expression of this receptor is controlled by the transcription factor E93. When E93 is removed, the neurons lose their ability to fulfill their task do detect pheromones, as evidenced by the deactivation of the fluorescent proteins (image to the right). The glowing, green cells, that use olfactory receptor 92a, are not affected because they are controlled by other transcription factors. Credit: Mattias Alenius
Alenius and his research team at the Department of Experimental and Clinical Medicine seek the answer to this pivotal question from a smaller perspective: the fruit fly's olfactory system.
The humble fly's olfactory system consists of 1200 olfactory neurons (humans have six million) divided into 34 groups. Each group responds to a particular set of odours, since all the neurons of the group use only one of the olfactory receptors present in the fly's antennas. Together, the receptors provide the fly with the ability to distinguish between thousands of odours: one olfactory receptor – one neuron group, simple yet complex.
Alenius and his colleagues are the first to go through all of the fruit fly's 753 gene regulatory genes, called transcription factors. They have identified a set of seven that, in different combinations, are required to create each of the 34 neuron groups in the antenna. A surprising finding is that most transcription factors perform two tasks simultaneously: they can activate odorant receptors' expression; while at the same time turning off others in the same cell.
Alenius explains, "This is one of the many tricks that are useful to know for the future if you want to make and cultivate each of the many thousands of nerve cell groups that make up our brains."
Article: Combinatorial activation and repression by seven transcriptor factors specify Drosophila odorant receptor expression by S Jafari, L Alkhori, A Scheffler, A Brochtrup, T Hummel and M Alenius. PLoS Biology, 10:3, March 2012.
Mattias Alenius | EurekAlert!
What happens in the cell nucleus after fertilization
06.12.2016 | Helmholtz Zentrum München - Deutsches Forschungszentrum für Gesundheit und Umwelt
Researchers uncover protein-based “cancer signature”
05.12.2016 | Universität Basel
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:...
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...
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,...
16.11.2016 | Event News
01.11.2016 | Event News
14.10.2016 | Event News
06.12.2016 | Materials Sciences
06.12.2016 | Medical Engineering
06.12.2016 | Power and Electrical Engineering