Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Genetic “Conductor” Involved With New Brain Cell Production in Adults

30.06.2011
A team of North Carolina State University researchers has discovered more about how a gene connected to the production of new brain cells in adults does its job. Their findings could pave the way to new therapies for brain injury or disease.

Most areas of the brain do not generate new brain cells, or neurons, after we are born. One exception is the olfactory bulb, the brain’s scent processor, which continually produces new neurons.

Dr. Troy Ghashghaei, assistant professor of neurobiology, had previously found a gene – known as Foxj1–connected to the production of an area inside the olfactory bulb where stem cells could form. Ghashghaei and his team discovered that Foxj1 was an “off switch” that told neuronal stem cells to stop reproducing and triggered the development of a stem cell “niche” in the olfactory bulbs.

However, further experiments with newly developed genetically modified mice unexpectedly revealed that a fraction of Foxj1-expressing cells actually functioned as stem cells. But they only did so until the mouse reached the age equivalent of a human toddler, not throughout adulthood. In addition, the number of neurons generated by these cells was much lower than expected, which led to more questions about its function.

“Essentially, the experiments we did weren’t giving us the numbers of neurons from Foxj1-expressing stem cells that we expected. We could have gotten disappointed with what may have been perceived as a road-block in our findings” says Ghashghaei. “If the gene was one that stem cells had to express in order to produce neurons, then we should have seen a greater number of neurons produced from the Foxj1-expressing stem cells. Instead, only about three percent of the olfactory neurons came from the Foxj1 stem cells. More importantly, we could not identify these unique neurons as belonging to known types of neurons in the olfactory system.”

These findings and subsequent experimentation helped the team discover that in addition to being an off switch, the Foxj1 cellular lineage (i.e., Foxj1 expressing cells and their descendents) performs an important function as a “conductor,” instructing the other stem cells in the olfactory bulb by secreting various molecules that affect the other stem cells’ behavior and ensure their correct development into neurons. So a small number of Foxj1-expressing cells and their neuronal offspring direct other stem cells to continue reproducing, and may be telling them when to become functionally integrated neurons.

The research appears in the Journal of Neuroscience. Graduate students Benoit Jacquet, Huixuan Liang, and Guanxi Xiao, together with postdoctoral fellows Nagendran Muthusamy and Laura Sommerville contributed to the work.

“This finding is important because for the most part our brains cannot generate new neurons, nor can we efficiently use transplanted neurons to repair damage,” Ghashghaei says. “Foxj1 expressing cells and their neurons seem to support zones within the brain where new neurons are created and integrated into existing neural circuits. If we can find out how to put these ‘conductor’ cells into other areas of the brain such as the spinal cord, it may lead to new cell-based therapies.

“This project took us on a roller-coaster ride – but the ending is a testament to the power of creative thinking and persistence in scientific inquiry – an achievement of which the clever and hardworking graduate students and postdoctoral fellows working on the problem should be very proud.”

Ghashghaei’s research is funded by the NIH and the American Federation for Aging Research. The Department of Molecular Biomedical Sciences is part of NC State’s College of Veterinary Medicine.

Tracey Peake | EurekAlert!
Further information:
http://www.ncsu.edu

More articles from Life Sciences:

nachricht ADP-ribosylation on the right track
26.04.2018 | Max-Planck-Institut für Biologie des Alterns

nachricht Flavins keep a handy helper in their pocket
25.04.2018 | University of Freiburg

All articles from Life Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

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

Im Focus: Why we need erasable MRI scans

New technology could allow an MRI contrast agent to 'blink off,' helping doctors diagnose disease

Magnetic resonance imaging, or MRI, is a widely used medical tool for taking pictures of the insides of our body. One way to make MRI scans easier to read is...

Im Focus: BAM@Hannover Messe: innovative 3D printing method for space flight

At the Hannover Messe 2018, the Bundesanstalt für Materialforschung und-prüfung (BAM) will show how, in the future, astronauts could produce their own tools or spare parts in zero gravity using 3D printing. This will reduce, weight and transport costs for space missions. Visitors can experience the innovative additive manufacturing process live at the fair.

Powder-based additive manufacturing in zero gravity is the name of the project in which a component is produced by applying metallic powder layers and then...

Im Focus: Molecules Brilliantly Illuminated

Physicists at the Laboratory for Attosecond Physics, which is jointly run by Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität and the Max Planck Institute of Quantum Optics, have developed a high-power laser system that generates ultrashort pulses of light covering a large share of the mid-infrared spectrum. The researchers envisage a wide range of applications for the technology – in the early diagnosis of cancer, for instance.

Molecules are the building blocks of life. Like all other organisms, we are made of them. They control our biorhythm, and they can also reflect our state of...

Im Focus: Spider silk key to new bone-fixing composite

University of Connecticut researchers have created a biodegradable composite made of silk fibers that can be used to repair broken load-bearing bones without the complications sometimes presented by other materials.

Repairing major load-bearing bones such as those in the leg can be a long and uncomfortable process.

Im Focus: Writing and deleting magnets with lasers

Study published in the journal ACS Applied Materials & Interfaces is the outcome of an international effort that included teams from Dresden and Berlin in Germany, and the US.

Scientists at the Helmholtz-Zentrum Dresden-Rossendorf (HZDR) together with colleagues from the Helmholtz-Zentrum Berlin (HZB) and the University of Virginia...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

VideoLinks
Industry & Economy
Event News

Invitation to the upcoming "Current Topics in Bioinformatics: Big Data in Genomics and Medicine"

13.04.2018 | Event News

Unique scope of UV LED technologies and applications presented in Berlin: ICULTA-2018

12.04.2018 | Event News

IWOLIA: A conference bringing together German Industrie 4.0 and French Industrie du Futur

09.04.2018 | Event News

 
Latest News

Why we need erasable MRI scans

26.04.2018 | Medical Engineering

Balancing nuclear and renewable energy

26.04.2018 | Power and Electrical Engineering

Researchers 3-D print electronics and cells directly on skin

26.04.2018 | Information Technology

VideoLinks
Science & Research
Overview of more VideoLinks >>>