Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Pair of proteins gets brain cells into shape

20.12.2012
Scientists at the German Center for Neurodegenerative Diseases (DZNE) in Bonn have gained new insights into the early phase of the brain’s development.

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:
“ADF/cofilin-mediated Actin Retrograde Flow Directs Neurite Formation in the Developing Brain,” Kevin C. Flynn, Farida Hellal, Dorothee Neukirchen, Sonja Jacobs, Sabina Tahirovic, Sebastian Dupraz, Sina Stern, Boyan K. Garvalov, Christine Gurniak, Alisa Shaw, Liane Meyn, Roland Wedlich-Söldner, James R. Bamburg, J. Victor Small, Walter Witke, Frank Bradke, Neuron, Online at: http://www.cell.com/neuron/abstract/S0896-6273%2812%2900897-5
A picture can be downloaded at
http://www.dzne.de/en/about-us/public-relations/meldungen/2012
/press-release-no-32.html
The German Center for Neurodegenerative Diseases (DZNE) investigates the causes of diseases of the nervous system and develops strategies for prevention, treatment and care. It is an institution of the Helmholtz Association of German Research Centres with sites in Berlin, Bonn, Dresden, Göttingen, Magdeburg, Munich, Rostock/Greifswald, Tübingen and Witten. The DZNE cooperates closely with universities, their clinics and other research facilities. Its cooperation partners in Bonn are the Caesar Research Center, the University of Bonn and the University Clinic Bonn.

Dr. Marcus Neitzert | idw
Further information:
http://www.dzne.de/en

More articles from Life Sciences:

nachricht What the world's tiniest 'monster truck' reveals
23.08.2017 | American Chemical Society

nachricht Treating arthritis with algae
23.08.2017 | Empa - Eidgenössische Materialprüfungs- und Forschungsanstalt

All articles from Life Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

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

Im Focus: Fizzy soda water could be key to clean manufacture of flat wonder material: Graphene

Whether you call it effervescent, fizzy, or sparkling, carbonated water is making a comeback as a beverage. Aside from quenching thirst, researchers at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign have discovered a new use for these "bubbly" concoctions that will have major impact on the manufacturer of the world's thinnest, flattest, and one most useful materials -- graphene.

As graphene's popularity grows as an advanced "wonder" material, the speed and quality at which it can be manufactured will be paramount. With that in mind,...

Im Focus: Exotic quantum states made from light: Physicists create optical “wells” for a super-photon

Physicists at the University of Bonn have managed to create optical hollows and more complex patterns into which the light of a Bose-Einstein condensate flows. The creation of such highly low-loss structures for light is a prerequisite for complex light circuits, such as for quantum information processing for a new generation of computers. The researchers are now presenting their results in the journal Nature Photonics.

Light particles (photons) occur as tiny, indivisible portions. Many thousands of these light portions can be merged to form a single super-photon if they are...

Im Focus: Circular RNA linked to brain function

For the first time, scientists have shown that circular RNA is linked to brain function. When a RNA molecule called Cdr1as was deleted from the genome of mice, the animals had problems filtering out unnecessary information – like patients suffering from neuropsychiatric disorders.

While hundreds of circular RNAs (circRNAs) are abundant in mammalian brains, one big question has remained unanswered: What are they actually good for? In the...

Im Focus: RAVAN CubeSat measures Earth's outgoing energy

An experimental small satellite has successfully collected and delivered data on a key measurement for predicting changes in Earth's climate.

The Radiometer Assessment using Vertically Aligned Nanotubes (RAVAN) CubeSat was launched into low-Earth orbit on Nov. 11, 2016, in order to test new...

Im Focus: Scientists shine new light on the “other high temperature superconductor”

A study led by scientists of the Max Planck Institute for the Structure and Dynamics of Matter (MPSD) at the Center for Free-Electron Laser Science in Hamburg presents evidence of the coexistence of superconductivity and “charge-density-waves” in compounds of the poorly-studied family of bismuthates. This observation opens up new perspectives for a deeper understanding of the phenomenon of high-temperature superconductivity, a topic which is at the core of condensed matter research since more than 30 years. The paper by Nicoletti et al has been published in the PNAS.

Since the beginning of the 20th century, superconductivity had been observed in some metals at temperatures only a few degrees above the absolute zero (minus...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

Call for Papers – ICNFT 2018, 5th International Conference on New Forming Technology

16.08.2017 | Event News

Sustainability is the business model of tomorrow

04.08.2017 | Event News

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

26.07.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

What the world's tiniest 'monster truck' reveals

23.08.2017 | Life Sciences

Treating arthritis with algae

23.08.2017 | Life Sciences

Witnessing turbulent motion in the atmosphere of a distant star

23.08.2017 | Physics and Astronomy

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>