Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

New technology shows axons are extremely sensitive to directional cues

24.05.2004


Researchers at Georgetown University have developed a novel technology to precisely measure the sensitivity of nerve fibers that wire up the brain during development. Through use of this technology, they discovered that these fibers, or axons, possess an incredible sensitivity to molecular guidance cues that direct the axon’s route to its desired destination in the brain. Their findings are described in the June issue of Nature Neuroscience.

Similar to connecting your PC, monitor, mouse and printer correctly to make all computer parts work, the developing brain needs a series of critical wiring connections to be made for it to function properly. But, unlike computers that come with a user and troubleshooting manual, nerve fibers called axons must follow molecular cues to find the right targets.

Much work has been done to understand what molecules are involved in this process, called axonal guidance. However, no technology until now allowed researchers to create a controllable, stable gradient with which one could measure the sensitivity of axons to gradients, and how that sensitivity can impact and guide the development of connections in the brain.



"I was curious about the physics of this wiring up process, which led our lab in a different direction than others who study axonal guidance," said Geoff Goodhill, PhD associate professor of neuroscience at Georgetown University Medical Center. "Once we had created a stable environment and could control molecular gradients, we were amazed to discover just how sensitive axons are to tiny changes in the concentration of molecular cues. We’ve found that a difference in concentration of a single molecule across the tip of an axon can measurably impact the direction in which the axons grow."

Goodhill notes this physics-based approach to understanding gradients affect axons may eventually assist researchers who study how the nervous system regenerates after injury. "Clearly, the more we understand about what guides connectivity normally, the greater chance there is of figuring out how connections can be regrown after they’ve been lost."

The technology may also have applications outside the realm of neuroscience. "In cancer, and other biological fields where cell migration in important, we think our new technology may be useful for studying movement in response to gradients," said Goodhill.

The team has plans to conduct further research on molecular gradients and axonal guidance by using time lapse imaging, and studying if axons are as sensitive to repulsive molecular cues that push axons away from particular regions.

Goodhill conducted this research with Georgetown collaborators Will Rosoff, PhD in Neuroscience, Jeffery Urbach, PhD, Mark Esrick, PhD and Ryan McAllister, PhD in Physics, and Linda J. Richards, PhD, of the University of Maryland. Their research was supported by the National Institutes of Health, National Science Foundation, and Whitaker Foundation.


Georgetown University Medical Center is an internationally recognized academic medical center with a three-part mission of research, teaching and patient care (through our partnership with MedStar Health). Our mission is carried out with a strong emphasis on public service and a dedication to the Catholic, Jesuit principle of cura personalis--or "care of the whole person." The Medical Center includes the School of Medicine and the School of Nursing and Health Studies, both nationally ranked, and the world renowned Lombardi Comprehensive Cancer Center.

Lindsey Spindle | EurekAlert!
Further information:
http://www.georgetown.edu/gumc

More articles from Life Sciences:

nachricht Are there sustainable solutions in dealing with dwindling phosphorus resources?
16.10.2017 | Leibniz-Institut für Nutzierbiologie (FBN)

nachricht Strange undertakings: ant queens bury dead to prevent disease
13.10.2017 | Institute of Science and Technology Austria

All articles from Life Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

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

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...

Im Focus: New nanomaterial can extract hydrogen fuel from seawater

Hybrid material converts more sunlight and can weather seawater's harsh conditions

It's possible to produce hydrogen to power fuel cells by extracting the gas from seawater, but the electricity required to do it makes the process costly. UCF...

Im Focus: Small collisions make big impact on Mercury's thin atmosphere

Mercury, our smallest planetary neighbor, has very little to call an atmosphere, but it does have a strange weather pattern: morning micro-meteor showers.

Recent modeling along with previously published results from NASA's MESSENGER spacecraft -- short for Mercury Surface, Space Environment, Geochemistry and...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

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

Conference Week RRR2017 on Renewable Resources from Wet and Rewetted Peatlands

28.09.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

A single photon reveals quantum entanglement of 16 million atoms

16.10.2017 | Physics and Astronomy

The melting ice makes the sea around Greenland less saline

16.10.2017 | Earth Sciences

On the generation of solar spicules and Alfvenic waves

16.10.2017 | Physics and Astronomy

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>