Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:


MDC Researchers Reveal Molecular Mechanism Underlying Severe Anomalies of the Forebrain

Researchers of the Max Delbrück Centrum for Molecular Medicine (MDC) Berlin-Buch have now identified and described a molecular mechanism underlying the most common malformation of the brain in humans.
In holoprosencephaly (HPE), the forebrain (prosencephalon) is only incompletely formed. Here a binding site (receptor) for cholesterol plays a key role. If this receptor is defective, specific signals cannot be received, and the forebrain cannot separate into two hemispheres, as Dr. Annabel Christ, Professor Thomas Willnow and Dr. Annette Hammes have now shown in mice (Developmental Cell, DOI 10.1016/j.devcel.2011.11.023)*.

Cholesterol has a bad reputation because it may lead to vascular calcification in adults (atherosclerosis) as well as to heart attacks and strokes. However, cholesterol is vital for embryonic development because it controls the development of the central nervous system. The lack of it can lead to severe developmental disorders of the forebrain (prosencephalon), the largest region of the human brain. One in 250 pregnancies does not come to term due to this malformation called holoprosencephaly (HPE). One in 16000 children is born with HPE, of which the mildest form is cleft lip and palate. In severe forms of HPE the affected children do not survive the first weeks of life.
HPE may be due to genetic factors, but environmental factors such as viral infections or alcohol abuse during pregnancy may also cause the malformation. Moreover, the cholesterol metabolism is also frequently disturbed. Thus, patients whose bodies cannot produce cholesterol due to a genetic disorder inevitably have HPE.

As Professor Willnow explained, the human brain develops from the neural tube, a simple tube-like cluster of cells in the embryo. Why defects in cholesterol metabolism lead to a developmental disorder of the neural tube and to HPE is thus far not completely understood. The studies of the Berlin researchers may give a possible clue. They identified a receptor called LRP2 that is formed in the neural tube and can bind lipoproteins, which are the transport form of cholesterol.
Interestingly, this receptor also binds an important signal molecule of forebrain development (sonic hedgehog, abbreviated SHH). As the researchers demonstrated, this lipoprotein receptor drives the accumulation of SHH in the neural tube at a specific site and induces the development of the forebrain structures. The researchers now suspect that cholesterol – directly or indirectly – plays a central role in controlling the activity of this novel receptor and assume that disturbances in cholesterol metabolism lead to a loss of function of this auxiliary receptor for SHH signaling.

*LRP2 Is an Auxiliary SHH Receptor Required to Condition the Forebrain Ventral Midline for Inductive Signals
Annabel Christ1, Anna Christa1, Esther Kur1, Oleg Lioubinski1, Sebastian Bachmann2, Thomas E. Willnow1,3* and Annette Hammes1,3
1Max Delbrück Center for Molecular Medicine
2Institute for Vegetative Anatomy Charité Universitätsmedizin, D-13125 Berlin, Germany
3These authors contributed equally to this work

Barbara Bachtler
Press Department
Max Delbrück Center for Molecular Medicine (MDC) Berlin-Buch
in the Helmholtz Association
Robert-Rössle-Straße 10
13125 Berlin
Phone: +49 (0) 30 94 06 - 38 96
Fax: +49 (0) 30 94 06 - 38 33

Barbara Bachtler | Max-Delbrück-Centrum
Further information:

More articles from Life Sciences:

nachricht Novel mechanisms of action discovered for the skin cancer medication Imiquimod
21.10.2016 | Technische Universität München

nachricht Second research flight into zero gravity
21.10.2016 | Universität Zürich

All articles from Life Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

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

Im Focus: New 3-D wiring technique brings scalable quantum computers closer to reality

Researchers from the Institute for Quantum Computing (IQC) at the University of Waterloo led the development of a new extensible wiring technique capable of controlling superconducting quantum bits, representing a significant step towards to the realization of a scalable quantum computer.

"The quantum socket is a wiring method that uses three-dimensional wires based on spring-loaded pins to address individual qubits," said Jeremy Béjanin, a PhD...

Im Focus: Scientists develop a semiconductor nanocomposite material that moves in response to light

In a paper in Scientific Reports, a research team at Worcester Polytechnic Institute describes a novel light-activated phenomenon that could become the basis for applications as diverse as microscopic robotic grippers and more efficient solar cells.

A research team at Worcester Polytechnic Institute (WPI) has developed a revolutionary, light-activated semiconductor nanocomposite material that can be used...

Im Focus: Diamonds aren't forever: Sandia, Harvard team create first quantum computer bridge

By forcefully embedding two silicon atoms in a diamond matrix, Sandia researchers have demonstrated for the first time on a single chip all the components needed to create a quantum bridge to link quantum computers together.

"People have already built small quantum computers," says Sandia researcher Ryan Camacho. "Maybe the first useful one won't be a single giant quantum computer...

Im Focus: New Products - Highlights of COMPAMED 2016

COMPAMED has become the leading international marketplace for suppliers of medical manufacturing. The trade fair, which takes place every November and is co-located to MEDICA in Dusseldorf, has been steadily growing over the past years and shows that medical technology remains a rapidly growing market.

In 2016, the joint pavilion by the IVAM Microtechnology Network, the Product Market “High-tech for Medical Devices”, will be located in Hall 8a again and will...

Im Focus: Ultra-thin ferroelectric material for next-generation electronics

'Ferroelectric' materials can switch between different states of electrical polarization in response to an external electric field. This flexibility means they show promise for many applications, for example in electronic devices and computer memory. Current ferroelectric materials are highly valued for their thermal and chemical stability and rapid electro-mechanical responses, but creating a material that is scalable down to the tiny sizes needed for technologies like silicon-based semiconductors (Si-based CMOS) has proven challenging.

Now, Hiroshi Funakubo and co-workers at the Tokyo Institute of Technology, in collaboration with researchers across Japan, have conducted experiments to...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>



Event News

#IC2S2: When Social Science meets Computer Science - GESIS will host the IC2S2 conference 2017

14.10.2016 | Event News

Agricultural Trade Developments and Potentials in Central Asia and the South Caucasus

14.10.2016 | Event News

World Health Summit – Day Three: A Call to Action

12.10.2016 | Event News

Latest News

Resolving the mystery of preeclampsia

21.10.2016 | Health and Medicine

Stanford researchers create new special-purpose computer that may someday save us billions

21.10.2016 | Information Technology

From ancient fossils to future cars

21.10.2016 | Materials Sciences

More VideoLinks >>>