Researchers at UT Southwestern Medical Center have identified a biochemical switch that affects how neurons fire in a part of the brain associated with learning, findings that may aid in understanding schizophrenia and Alzheimers disease.
The research sheds new light on the action of reelin, a protein known to be important in the nervous system. During development, reelin sends cues to migrating neurons, telling them where theyre supposed to go. In adult mice, reelin has recently been implicated in the formation of memories, and reduced production of reelin has been associated with schizophrenia in humans.
In a report published in the Aug.18 issue of the journal Neuron, Dr. Joachim Herz, professor of molecular genetics and a member of the Center for Basic Neuroscience at UT Southwestern and the papers senior author, studied an area of the brain called the hippocampus, which is important for learning. He and his colleagues focused on the interaction of reelin and two other molecules, Apoer2 and the NMDA receptor.
Aline McKenzie | EurekAlert!
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