UAB researchers identify the protein which prevents memory consolidation when blocked
Alzheimer's disease is the first cause of dementia and affects some 400,000 people in Spain alone. However, no effective cure has yet been found. One of the reasons for this is the lack of knowledge on the cellular mechanisms which cause alterations in nerve transmissions and the loss of memory in the initial stages of the disease.
Researchers from the Institute of Neuroscience at the Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona have discovered the cellular mechanism involved in memory consolidation and were able to develop a gene therapy which reverses the loss of memory in mice models with initial stages of Alzheimer's disease.
The therapy consists in injecting into the hippocampus - a region of the brain essential to memory processing - a gene which causes the production of a protein blocked in patients with Alzheimer's, the "Crtc1" (CREB regulated transcription coactivator-1). The protein restored through gene therapy gives way to the signals needed to activate the genes involved in long-term memory consolidation.
To identify this protein, researchers compared gene expression in the hippocampus of healthy control mice with that of transgenic mice which had developed the disease. Through DNA microchips, they identified the genes ("transcriptome") and the proteins ("proteome") which expressed themselves in each of the mice in different phases of the disease.
Researchers observed that the set of genes involved in memory consolidation coincided with the genes regulating Crtc1, a protein which also controls genes related to the metabolism of glucose and to cancer. The alteration of this group of genes could cause memory loss in the initial stages of Alzheimer's disease.
In persons with the disease, the formation of amyloid plaque aggregates, a process known to cause the onset of Alzheimer's disease, prevents the Crtc1 protein from functioning correctly. "When the Crtc1 protein is altered, the genes responsible for the synapsis or connections between neurons in the hippocampus cannot be activated and the individual cannot perform memory tasks correctly", explains Carlos Saura, researcher of the UAB Institute of Neuroscience and head of the research.
According to Saura, "this study opens up new perspectives on therapeutic prevention and treatment of Alzheimer's disease, given that we have demonstrated that a gene therapy which activates the Crtc1 protein is effective in preventing the loss of memory in lab mice".
The research, published today as a featured article in The Journal of Neuroscience, the official journal of the US Society of Neuroscience, paves the way for a new therapeutic approach to the disease. One of the main challenges in finding a treatment for the disease in the future is the research and development of pharmacological therapies capable of activating the Crtc1 protein, with the aim of preventing, slowing down or reverting cognitive alterations in patients.
Carlos Saura | Eurek Alert!
Discovery of a fundamental limit to the evolution of the genetic code
03.05.2016 | Institute for Research in Biomedicine (IRB Barcelona)
03.05.2016 | Christian-Albrechts-Universität zu Kiel
Using an ultra fast-scanning atomic force microscope, a team of researchers from the University of Basel has filmed “living” nuclear pore complexes at work for the first time. Nuclear pores are molecular machines that control the traffic entering or exiting the cell nucleus. In their article published in Nature Nanotechnology, the researchers explain how the passage of unwanted molecules is prevented by rapidly moving molecular “tentacles” inside the pore.
Using high-speed AFM, Roderick Lim, Argovia Professor at the Biozentrum and the Swiss Nanoscience Institute of the University of Basel, has not only directly...
If a person pushes a broken-down car alone, there is a certain effect. If another person helps, the result is the sum of their efforts. If two micro-particles are pushing another microparticle, however, the resulting effect may not necessarily be the sum their efforts. A recent study published in Nature Communications, measured this odd effect that scientists call “many body.”
In the microscopic world, where the modern miniaturized machines at the new frontiers of technology operate, as long as we are in the presence of two...
Researchers from the Max Planck Institute Stuttgart have developed self-propelled tiny ‘microbots’ that can remove lead or organic pollution from contaminated water.
Working with colleagues in Barcelona and Singapore, Samuel Sánchez’s group used graphene oxide to make their microscale motors, which are able to adsorb lead...
Neutron scattering and computational modeling have revealed unique and unexpected behavior of water molecules under extreme confinement that is unmatched by any known gas, liquid or solid states.
In a paper published in Physical Review Letters, researchers at the Department of Energy's Oak Ridge National Laboratory describe a new tunneling state of...
Honeycomb structures as the basic building block for industrial applications presented using holo pyramid
Researchers of the Alfred Wegener Institute (AWI) will introduce their latest developments in the field of bionic lightweight design at Hannover Messe from 25...
27.04.2016 | Event News
15.04.2016 | Event News
12.04.2016 | Event News
04.05.2016 | Earth Sciences
04.05.2016 | Health and Medicine
03.05.2016 | Physics and Astronomy