In cooperation with researchers of the Max Planck Institute of Neurobiology, the University of Bonn and other German and international colleagues they identified two proteins that control the formation of cell protuberances. The typical ramifications through which nerve cells receive and forward signals ultimately originate from these outgrowths.
The study conducted by Prof. Frank Bradke’s team provides indications on brain development and about the causes of diseases of the nervous system. The results have now been published in “Neuron”.
Under the microscope, the brain appears as a network of intricate beauty comprising billions of nerve cells (the so-called “neurons”) linked together. This network is engaged in a constant process of sharing information. The signals are transmitted from neuron to neuron through fine ramifications of the cell body. However, to acquire this typical structure, young nerve cells have first to go through a shape transformation. “Young neurons have a rather inconspicuous form. They tend to be round and are reminiscent of cherries,” comments Frank Bradke, group leader at the DZNE in Bonn. “At this stage, the neuron is much like an island. It is insulated and does not have any direct contact with other cells.”
Consequently, nerve cells have to go through a phase of change while they are still in the early stages of their development. To date, little was known about how the cells master this transformation, which is so important for their function. It is essential for the brain’s development that its neurons develop contacts to a multitude of other cells. The initial step of this process is that tiny extensions, the so-called “neurites” protrude out of the cell body. The study conducted by the researchers in Bonn and their colleagues sheds light on this process.
A dynamic duo gets its grip on the cell’s corset
Investigating mouse brain cells, the neuroscientists were able to identify the three key players involved in the shape change: the cell’s cytoskeleton, which consists of specific proteins that give the cell its form and stability, as well as the two proteins named “ADF” and “cofilin.” “We were able to show that these two proteins do have a significant impact on cell structure,” explains Dr. Kevin Flynn, a postdoc researcher in Bradke’s team and first author of the report published in “Neuron”. “Much like scissors they cut through the support corset of the cell in the proper location. Neurites can subsequently develop through these gaps.”
For this to occur several processes have to work hand in hand: along its perimeter, the neuron receives its stability mainly through a network of actin filaments, string shaped protein molecules. The proteins ADF and cofilin can alter this structure by dissolving the actin filaments and enabling fragments resulting from this process to be carried away. As a result, other components of the cytoskeleton – the microtubules – are able to come to action. The microtubule migrate through the newly opened gap and form a new cell protuberance.
Impact on the development of the brain
In their study, the researchers demonstrated the significance of the two proteins in nerve cell development. In certain mice, the production of ADF and cofilin was virtually halted. As a result the brains of newborn animals had severe abnormalities. Analysis of their brain cells indicated that they had failed to develop any neurites.
“Our study shows that the proteins ADF and cofilin, and their interaction with actin filaments, are key factors for brain development,” comments Bradke. However, the development of neurites is also of relevance in other contexts. For instance, nerve cells have to regrow their connections after an injury. In addition, a number of diseases and malformations of the nervous system are linked to underdeveloped neurites. “We now have a better understanding of the molecular processes that are involved in this important process.”Original Publication:
Dr. Marcus Neitzert | idw
A new technique isolates neuronal activity during memory consolidation
22.06.2017 | Spanish National Research Council (CSIC)
CWRU researchers find a chemical solution to shrink digital data storage
22.06.2017 | Case Western Reserve University
Heatwaves in the Arctic, longer periods of vegetation in Europe, severe floods in West Africa – starting in 2021, scientists want to explore the emissions of the greenhouse gas methane with the German-French satellite MERLIN. This is made possible by a new robust laser system of the Fraunhofer Institute for Laser Technology ILT in Aachen, which achieves unprecedented measurement accuracy.
Methane is primarily the result of the decomposition of organic matter. The gas has a 25 times greater warming potential than carbon dioxide, but is not as...
Hydrogen is regarded as the energy source of the future: It is produced with solar power and can be used to generate heat and electricity in fuel cells. Empa researchers have now succeeded in decoding the movement of hydrogen ions in crystals – a key step towards more efficient energy conversion in the hydrogen industry of tomorrow.
As charge carriers, electrons and ions play the leading role in electrochemical energy storage devices and converters such as batteries and fuel cells. Proton...
Scientists from the Excellence Cluster Universe at the Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität Munich have establised "Cosmowebportal", a unique data centre for cosmological simulations located at the Leibniz Supercomputing Centre (LRZ) of the Bavarian Academy of Sciences. The complete results of a series of large hydrodynamical cosmological simulations are available, with data volumes typically exceeding several hundred terabytes. Scientists worldwide can interactively explore these complex simulations via a web interface and directly access the results.
With current telescopes, scientists can observe our Universe’s galaxies and galaxy clusters and their distribution along an invisible cosmic web. From the...
Temperature measurements possible even on the smallest scale / Molecular ruby for use in material sciences, biology, and medicine
Chemists at Johannes Gutenberg University Mainz (JGU) in cooperation with researchers of the German Federal Institute for Materials Research and Testing (BAM)...
Germany counts high-precision manufacturing processes among its advantages as a location. It’s not just the aerospace and automotive industries that require almost waste-free, high-precision manufacturing to provide an efficient way of testing the shape and orientation tolerances of products. Since current inline measurement technology not yet provides the required accuracy, the Fraunhofer Institute for Laser Technology ILT is collaborating with four renowned industry partners in the INSPIRE project to develop inline sensors with a new accuracy class. Funded by the German Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF), the project is scheduled to run until the end of 2019.
New Manufacturing Technologies for New Products
19.06.2017 | Event News
13.06.2017 | Event News
13.06.2017 | Event News
22.06.2017 | Life Sciences
22.06.2017 | Materials Sciences
22.06.2017 | Materials Sciences