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 Programming cells with computer-like logic
27.07.2017 | Wyss Institute for Biologically Inspired Engineering at Harvard

nachricht Identified the component that allows a lethal bacteria to spread resistance to antibiotics
27.07.2017 | Institute for Research in Biomedicine (IRB Barcelona)

All articles from Life Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

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

Im Focus: Physicists Design Ultrafocused Pulses

Physicists working with researcher Oriol Romero-Isart devised a new simple scheme to theoretically generate arbitrarily short and focused electromagnetic fields. This new tool could be used for precise sensing and in microscopy.

Microwaves, heat radiation, light and X-radiation are examples for electromagnetic waves. Many applications require to focus the electromagnetic fields to...

Im Focus: Carbon Nanotubes Turn Electrical Current into Light-emitting Quasi-particles

Strong light-matter coupling in these semiconducting tubes may hold the key to electrically pumped lasers

Light-matter quasi-particles can be generated electrically in semiconducting carbon nanotubes. Material scientists and physicists from Heidelberg University...

Im Focus: Flexible proximity sensor creates smart surfaces

Fraunhofer IPA has developed a proximity sensor made from silicone and carbon nanotubes (CNT) which detects objects and determines their position. The materials and printing process used mean that the sensor is extremely flexible, economical and can be used for large surfaces. Industry and research partners can use and further develop this innovation straight away.

At first glance, the proximity sensor appears to be nothing special: a thin, elastic layer of silicone onto which black square surfaces are printed, but these...

Im Focus: 3-D scanning with water

3-D shape acquisition using water displacement as the shape sensor for the reconstruction of complex objects

A global team of computer scientists and engineers have developed an innovative technique that more completely reconstructs challenging 3D objects. An ancient...

Im Focus: Manipulating Electron Spins Without Loss of Information

Physicists have developed a new technique that uses electrical voltages to control the electron spin on a chip. The newly-developed method provides protection from spin decay, meaning that the contained information can be maintained and transmitted over comparatively large distances, as has been demonstrated by a team from the University of Basel’s Department of Physics and the Swiss Nanoscience Institute. The results have been published in Physical Review X.

For several years, researchers have been trying to use the spin of an electron to store and transmit information. The spin of each electron is always coupled...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

Clash of Realities 2017: Registration now open. International Conference at TH Köln

26.07.2017 | Event News

Closing the Sustainability Circle: Protection of Food with Biobased Materials

21.07.2017 | Event News

»We are bringing Additive Manufacturing to SMEs«

19.07.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

Programming cells with computer-like logic

27.07.2017 | Life Sciences

Identified the component that allows a lethal bacteria to spread resistance to antibiotics

27.07.2017 | Life Sciences

Malaria Already Endemic in the Mediterranean by the Roman Period

27.07.2017 | Health and Medicine

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>