Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Neuroscientists Discover a Critical Early Step of Memory Formation

15.09.2008
Researchers at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine report in the July issue of Neuron how nerve cells in the brain ensure that Arc, a protein critical for memory formation, is made instantly after nerve stimulation.

Paradoxically, its manufacture involves two other proteins — including one linked to mental retardation — that typically prevent proteins from being made.

Previous research already established that long-term memory formation depends on Arc protein, but scientists did not know the mechanism that turned on this process.

To find it, they surveyed proteins in mouse brains that change or are activated after a nerve is stimulated and identified eEF2K (short for eukaryotic elongation factor 2 kinase) as a player. When turned on, eEF2K inhibits an important step of protein translation.

“This seemed strange, because it suggested that nerve cells might make Arc protein by using pathways typically thought to turn off protein manufacture,” says Paul Worley, M.D., a professor of neuroscience in the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine.

Further examination of mouse brain slices lacking eEF2K in their nerve cells showed that when stimulated, such cells fail to make the usual pools of Arc protein, demonstrating that eEF2K is required for making Arc.

What it didn’t tell them was whether eEF2K specifically was responsible, or whether some other pathway is also involved, so researchers next treated the brain slices from normal mice with a chemical that inhibits protein manufacture by the same mechanism as eEF2K. At the same time that general protein synthesis was turned down, Arc translation actually increased, making it clear eEF2K, through its ability to turn down protein manufacture, somehow enabled a nerve cell to make Arc in response to nerve stimulation.

Meanwhile, Worley’s team proceeded to build on research showing that a protein linked to a form of mental retardation passed on by an abnormal “fragile X” chromosome also represses the manufacture of some proteins. The researchers looked at Arc protein levels in nerve cells lacking the fragile X mental retardation protein and found stable levels of Arc protein all the time, before, during, after and even without stimulation of the nerve cells. They concluded that without fragile X protein, the presumed “brakes” on the system, the manufacture of Arc goes unregulated.

“It’s sort of a seesaw relationship,” Worley says. When nerve cells are stimulated, eEF2K is activated to suppress protein manufacture generally, thereby allowing for the rapid manufacture of Arc, and, at the same time, fragile X mental retardation protein is stimulated to let Arc protein get made.

“By defining a mechanism that is associated with fragile X syndrome — the most common inherited cause of mental retardation and autism — it may help others to identify potential therapeutic targets to help with the disease,” Worley says.

The research was funded by the National Institute of Mental Health, the National Institute on Drug Abuse, and the National Institute on Aging.

Authors on the paper are Sunjin Park, Joo Min Park, Sangmok Kim, Jin-Ah Kim, Jason D. Shepherd, Constance L. Smith-Hicks, Shoaib Chowdhury, Walter Kaufmann, Dietmar Kuhl, Alexey G. Ryazanov, Richard L. Huganir, David J. Linden, and Worley, all of Hopkins.

Maryalice Yakutchik | Newswise Science News
Further information:
http://www.jhmi.edu

More articles from Life Sciences:

nachricht Rainbow colors reveal cell history: Uncovering β-cell heterogeneity
22.09.2017 | DFG-Forschungszentrum für Regenerative Therapien TU Dresden

nachricht The pyrenoid is a carbon-fixing liquid droplet
22.09.2017 | Max-Planck-Institut für Biochemie

All articles from Life Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

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

Im Focus: The pyrenoid is a carbon-fixing liquid droplet

Plants and algae use the enzyme Rubisco to fix carbon dioxide, removing it from the atmosphere and converting it into biomass. Algae have figured out a way to increase the efficiency of carbon fixation. They gather most of their Rubisco into a ball-shaped microcompartment called the pyrenoid, which they flood with a high local concentration of carbon dioxide. A team of scientists at Princeton University, the Carnegie Institution for Science, Stanford University and the Max Plank Institute of Biochemistry have unravelled the mysteries of how the pyrenoid is assembled. These insights can help to engineer crops that remove more carbon dioxide from the atmosphere while producing more food.

A warming planet

Im Focus: Highly precise wiring in the Cerebral Cortex

Our brains house extremely complex neuronal circuits, whose detailed structures are still largely unknown. This is especially true for the so-called cerebral cortex of mammals, where among other things vision, thoughts or spatial orientation are being computed. Here the rules by which nerve cells are connected to each other are only partly understood. A team of scientists around Moritz Helmstaedter at the Frankfiurt Max Planck Institute for Brain Research and Helene Schmidt (Humboldt University in Berlin) have now discovered a surprisingly precise nerve cell connectivity pattern in the part of the cerebral cortex that is responsible for orienting the individual animal or human in space.

The researchers report online in Nature (Schmidt et al., 2017. Axonal synapse sorting in medial entorhinal cortex, DOI: 10.1038/nature24005) that synapses in...

Im Focus: Tiny lasers from a gallery of whispers

New technique promises tunable laser devices

Whispering gallery mode (WGM) resonators are used to make tiny micro-lasers, sensors, switches, routers and other devices. These tiny structures rely on a...

Im Focus: Ultrafast snapshots of relaxing electrons in solids

Using ultrafast flashes of laser and x-ray radiation, scientists at the Max Planck Institute of Quantum Optics (Garching, Germany) took snapshots of the briefest electron motion inside a solid material to date. The electron motion lasted only 750 billionths of the billionth of a second before it fainted, setting a new record of human capability to capture ultrafast processes inside solids!

When x-rays shine onto solid materials or large molecules, an electron is pushed away from its original place near the nucleus of the atom, leaving a hole...

Im Focus: Quantum Sensors Decipher Magnetic Ordering in a New Semiconducting Material

For the first time, physicists have successfully imaged spiral magnetic ordering in a multiferroic material. These materials are considered highly promising candidates for future data storage media. The researchers were able to prove their findings using unique quantum sensors that were developed at Basel University and that can analyze electromagnetic fields on the nanometer scale. The results – obtained by scientists from the University of Basel’s Department of Physics, the Swiss Nanoscience Institute, the University of Montpellier and several laboratories from University Paris-Saclay – were recently published in the journal Nature.

Multiferroics are materials that simultaneously react to electric and magnetic fields. These two properties are rarely found together, and their combined...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

“Lasers in Composites Symposium” in Aachen – from Science to Application

19.09.2017 | Event News

I-ESA 2018 – Call for Papers

12.09.2017 | Event News

EMBO at Basel Life, a new conference on current and emerging life science research

06.09.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

Rainbow colors reveal cell history: Uncovering β-cell heterogeneity

22.09.2017 | Life Sciences

Penn first in world to treat patient with new radiation technology

22.09.2017 | Medical Engineering

Calculating quietness

22.09.2017 | Physics and Astronomy

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>