A puzzle piece found in unraveling the wiring of the brain
The complexity of the brain and, more specifically, how nerve cells form billions of contacts when there are fewer than 30,000 human genes is still a scientific mystery.
A team headed by Drs. Robin Hiesinger and Hugo J. Bellen at Baylor College of Medicine in Houston have unraveled a piece of that puzzle by finding a gene that plays a key role in brain wiring. A report on their work appears today in the journal Neuron.
"We were surprised to find an exocyst mutant having such specific defects," said Bellen, professor of molecular and human genetics at BCM. "The cell biological basis of brain wiring is largely unknown. We are happy to have a new handle on an old problem."
Using sophisticated genetics applied to the brain of the fruit fly, Drs. Sunil Mehta and Hiesinger found a gene named sec15 that is required for nerve cells to make appropriate choices of targets on which to act.
The Sec15 protein is part of a protein complex (the exocyst) which is known to be required for secretion (or exocytosis) of vesicular compartments in yeast. Vesicular compartments are small organelles that transport proteins from one site to another in the cell.
Neurons in the fly brain that lack sec15 not only display aberrant wiring patterns, but also show misplacement of proteins required for correct nerve cell contact choices.
Most of these cell contact proteins were previously known to display highly dynamic expression patterns in both time and space, but how they are put at the right time and at the right place remains to be shown. This study answers part of that question.
Others who participated in this work include Dr. Mike Crair of BCM, Drs. R. Grace Zhai, Karen L. Schulze, Patrik Verstreken, Yu Cao and Yi Zhou from the Howard Hughes Medical Institute at BCM and Drs. Slobodan Beronja and Ulrich Tepass from the University of Toronto.
Ross Tomlin | EurekAlert!
The most recent press releases about innovation >>>
Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:
Staphylococcus aureus is a feared pathogen (MRSA, multi-resistant S. aureus) due to frequent resistances against many antibiotics, especially in hospital infections. Researchers at the Paul-Ehrlich-Institut have identified immunological processes that prevent a successful immune response directed against the pathogenic agent. The delivery of bacterial proteins with RNA adjuvant or messenger RNA (mRNA) into immune cells allows the re-direction of the immune response towards an active defense against S. aureus. This could be of significant importance for the development of an effective vaccine. PLOS Pathogens has published these research results online on 25 May 2017.
Staphylococcus aureus (S. aureus) is a bacterium that colonizes by far more than half of the skin and the mucosa of adults, usually without causing infections....
Physicists from the University of Würzburg are capable of generating identical looking single light particles at the push of a button. Two new studies now demonstrate the potential this method holds.
The quantum computer has fuelled the imagination of scientists for decades: It is based on fundamentally different phenomena than a conventional computer....
An international team of physicists has monitored the scattering behaviour of electrons in a non-conducting material in real-time. Their insights could be beneficial for radiotherapy.
We can refer to electrons in non-conducting materials as ‘sluggish’. Typically, they remain fixed in a location, deep inside an atomic composite. It is hence...
Two-dimensional magnetic structures are regarded as a promising material for new types of data storage, since the magnetic properties of individual molecular building blocks can be investigated and modified. For the first time, researchers have now produced a wafer-thin ferrimagnet, in which molecules with different magnetic centers arrange themselves on a gold surface to form a checkerboard pattern. Scientists at the Swiss Nanoscience Institute at the University of Basel and the Paul Scherrer Institute published their findings in the journal Nature Communications.
Ferrimagnets are composed of two centers which are magnetized at different strengths and point in opposing directions. Two-dimensional, quasi-flat ferrimagnets...
Nano-hologram paves way for integration of 3-D holography into everyday electronics
An Australian-Chinese research team has created the world's thinnest hologram, paving the way towards the integration of 3D holography into everyday...