The study, to be published in the Nov. 17 issue of the Journal of Cell Biology, will be available online Nov. 10.
At the junction between the axon and the cell body is the axon initial segment (AIS), which sparks action potentials. Researchers also suspect that the AIS enables an axon to maintain its identity. Although scientists have teased out some of the molecular events that determine whether a neuron outgrowth will become an axon or a dendrite, they know little about what keeps these structures distinct.
In cultured neurons, Hedstrom et al. used RNAi to cut production of ankyrinG, a protein that helps spur formation of the AIS. Loss of ankyrinG caused the AIS to disappear. For example, sodium channels that normally crowd the AIS's plasma membrane dispersed. When ankyrinG was absent the erstwhile axons began to resemble dendrites, sprouting spines and developing excitatory synapses. Characteristic molecules from the cell body and dendrites, such as the microtubule polymerizing protein MAP2, also infiltrated the axons.
The AIS appears to serve as a filter that screens out dendritic proteins, Hedstrom et al. conclude. How the structure bars some proteins from the axon is still uncertain. Injuries and diseases can transform dendrites into axons. The findings raise the possibility that these insults could cause the reverse transformation by changing the amount of ankyrinG and altering the AIS.
Hedstrom, K.L., et al. 2008. J. Cell Biol. doi:10.1083/jcb.200806112
Rita Sullivan | EurekAlert!
Single-stranded DNA and RNA origami go live
15.12.2017 | Wyss Institute for Biologically Inspired Engineering at Harvard
New antbird species discovered in Peru by LSU ornithologists
15.12.2017 | Louisiana State University
DNA molecules that follow specific instructions could offer more precise molecular control of synthetic chemical systems, a discovery that opens the door for engineers to create molecular machines with new and complex behaviors.
Researchers have created chemical amplifiers and a chemical oscillator using a systematic method that has the potential to embed sophisticated circuit...
MPQ scientists achieve long storage times for photonic quantum bits which break the lower bound for direct teleportation in a global quantum network.
Concerning the development of quantum memories for the realization of global quantum networks, scientists of the Quantum Dynamics Division led by Professor...
Researchers have developed a water cloaking concept based on electromagnetic forces that could eliminate an object's wake, greatly reducing its drag while...
Tiny pores at a cell's entryway act as miniature bouncers, letting in some electrically charged atoms--ions--but blocking others. Operating as exquisitely sensitive filters, these "ion channels" play a critical role in biological functions such as muscle contraction and the firing of brain cells.
To rapidly transport the right ions through the cell membrane, the tiny channels rely on a complex interplay between the ions and surrounding molecules,...
The miniaturization of the current technology of storage media is hindered by fundamental limits of quantum mechanics. A new approach consists in using so-called spin-crossover molecules as the smallest possible storage unit. Similar to normal hard drives, these special molecules can save information via their magnetic state. A research team from Kiel University has now managed to successfully place a new class of spin-crossover molecules onto a surface and to improve the molecule’s storage capacity. The storage density of conventional hard drives could therefore theoretically be increased by more than one hundred fold. The study has been published in the scientific journal Nano Letters.
Over the past few years, the building blocks of storage media have gotten ever smaller. But further miniaturization of the current technology is hindered by...
11.12.2017 | Event News
08.12.2017 | Event News
07.12.2017 | Event News
15.12.2017 | Power and Electrical Engineering
15.12.2017 | Materials Sciences
15.12.2017 | Life Sciences