Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

MIT researchers develop a better way to see molecules at work in living brain cells

08.10.2010
New method helps explain synapse formation

By creating a better way to see molecules at work in living brain cells, researchers affiliated with MIT's Picower Institute for Learning and Memory and the MIT Department of Chemistry are helping elucidate molecular mechanisms of synapse formation.

These studies could also help further understanding of how synapses go awry in developmental diseases such as autism and Fragile X syndrome. The study will appear in the Oct. 7 issue of Cell.

Using the new technique, which is more accurate and sensitive than existing methods, the researchers found that certain protein-protein interactions can affect early phases of synapse maturation. Their work will help scientists understand exactly how two adjacent neurons form a synapse—the meeting point where information transfer among brain cells occurs. This method provides information on the dynamics of proteins in synapses on a minute-by-minute time scale, the researchers said.

"How nascent contacts mature into excitatory or inhibitory synapses is an area of intense interest," said Amar Thyagarajan, Autism Speaks Postdoctoral Fellow in the laboratory of Alice Y. Ting, associate professor of chemistry. "Trans-synaptic signaling complexes seem like a good place to start looking for clues to this process since they mediate signaling into the pre- and post-synaptic cells during this process."

Study co-authors Thyagarajan and Ting are Picower Institute affiliates.

The researchers studied the interaction of the proteins neurexin and neuroligin on the surface of neurons. These adhesion molecules--two of many in the brain that regulate synapse formation, maturation, function and plasticity--not only function as the "glue" that hold neurons together but also mediate signaling so that the appropriate molecular components are recruited for the pre- and postsynaptic cells.

Neurexins and neuroligins can be thought of as a chemical bridge and communication network that spans the synaptic cleft.

Called BLINC (Biotin Labeling of Intercellular Contacts), the new technique creates a fluorescent signal only when neurexin and neuroligin interact. "The only way for a BLINC signal to occur is when two neurons contact each other," Thyagarajan said.

For a long time, it had been known that neurexins and neuroligins are important for synapse maturation. However, their exact function was unclear since most previous studies used indirect methods such as manipulating gene expression to infer function.

"Our motivation was that if we could come up with a way to directly observe this complex, then maybe we could better understand its function in synapse maturation," Thyagarajan said.

"We developed BLINC to visualize this complex in live synapses in culture. We then used BLINC in different modalities to discover that synaptic activity causes the neurexin-neuroligin complex to grow in size," he said. "This growth is necessary for the recruitment of AMPA receptors to young synapses.

"AMPA receptor recruitment is a hallmark of excitatory synapse maturation, so our study demonstrated how a trans-synaptic complex can affect early phases of synapse maturation," Thyagarajan said.

Source: "Imaging Activity-Dependent Regulation of Neurexin-Neuroligin Interactions Using trans-Synaptic Enzymatic Biotinylation," by Amar Thyagarajan and Alice Y. Ting. Cell, 7 October, 2010.

Jennifer Hirsch | EurekAlert!
Further information:
http://www.mit.edu

Further reports about: AMPA BLINC Picower brain cell cell death synapse formation

More articles from Life Sciences:

nachricht The birth of a new protein
20.10.2017 | University of Arizona

nachricht Building New Moss Factories
20.10.2017 | Albert-Ludwigs-Universität Freiburg im Breisgau

All articles from Life Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

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

Im Focus: Neutron star merger directly observed for the first time

University of Maryland researchers contribute to historic detection of gravitational waves and light created by event

On August 17, 2017, at 12:41:04 UTC, scientists made the first direct observation of a merger between two neutron stars--the dense, collapsed cores that remain...

Im Focus: Breaking: the first light from two neutron stars merging

Seven new papers describe the first-ever detection of light from a gravitational wave source. The event, caused by two neutron stars colliding and merging together, was dubbed GW170817 because it sent ripples through space-time that reached Earth on 2017 August 17. Around the world, hundreds of excited astronomers mobilized quickly and were able to observe the event using numerous telescopes, providing a wealth of new data.

Previous detections of gravitational waves have all involved the merger of two black holes, a feat that won the 2017 Nobel Prize in Physics earlier this month....

Im Focus: Smart sensors for efficient processes

Material defects in end products can quickly result in failures in many areas of industry, and have a massive impact on the safe use of their products. This is why, in the field of quality assurance, intelligent, nondestructive sensor systems play a key role. They allow testing components and parts in a rapid and cost-efficient manner without destroying the actual product or changing its surface. Experts from the Fraunhofer IZFP in Saarbrücken will be presenting two exhibits at the Blechexpo in Stuttgart from 7–10 November 2017 that allow fast, reliable, and automated characterization of materials and detection of defects (Hall 5, Booth 5306).

When quality testing uses time-consuming destructive test methods, it can result in enormous costs due to damaging or destroying the products. And given that...

Im Focus: Cold molecules on collision course

Using a new cooling technique MPQ scientists succeed at observing collisions in a dense beam of cold and slow dipolar molecules.

How do chemical reactions proceed at extremely low temperatures? The answer requires the investigation of molecular samples that are cold, dense, and slow at...

Im Focus: Shrinking the proton again!

Scientists from the Max Planck Institute of Quantum Optics, using high precision laser spectroscopy of atomic hydrogen, confirm the surprisingly small value of the proton radius determined from muonic hydrogen.

It was one of the breakthroughs of the year 2010: Laser spectroscopy of muonic hydrogen resulted in a value for the proton charge radius that was significantly...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

ASEAN Member States discuss the future role of renewable energy

17.10.2017 | Event News

World Health Summit 2017: International experts set the course for the future of Global Health

10.10.2017 | Event News

Climate Engineering Conference 2017 Opens in Berlin

10.10.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

Terahertz spectroscopy goes nano

20.10.2017 | Information Technology

Strange but true: Turning a material upside down can sometimes make it softer

20.10.2017 | Materials Sciences

NRL clarifies valley polarization for electronic and optoelectronic technologies

20.10.2017 | Interdisciplinary Research

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>