Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Snapin: A protein with therapy potential for autism

25.08.2005


Rutgers’ Bonnie Firestein likens nerve cells to trees -- some are short and bushy with many branches while others are tall with a few branches coming out of one or two main trunks. Different branching patterns correlate with specific disorders and Firestein’s quest is to discover how these dissimilar patterns come about and why.



A new paper by Firestein and her colleagues at Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey, examines the role of the protein snapin in nerve branch, or dendrite, patterning and its potential as a drug target in therapies aimed at learning and memory disorders. The article will appear in the journal Molecular Biology of the Cell but appeared online today at MBC in Press.

While disorders like autism may arise from a multiplicity of causes, research at the cellular level, such as that of Firestein and her Rutgers team, is creating an important point of entry for early intervention with therapeutic drugs.


Dendrites are the input centers of neurons -- where nerve cells receive information that they pass on to another nerve cell or to the brain. When there is an abnormal decrease in dendrite branches, there are fewer sites to receive information and communication may be impeded. Individuals with disorders such as autism and Rett syndrome display not only fewer branches, but also show two quite different dendrite patterns. Firestein’s most recent work explores the how and why of dendrite branching and patterning.

"It’s not just how many branches there are, but where they are and the pattern they form," said Firestein, an assistant professor in Rutgers’ department of cell biology and neuroscience. "The patterning actually affects the way a cell signals and understanding the patterning could be just as important as understanding how many branches are there. Ultimately, this could lead to new drugs designed to modulate the patterning activity."

Firestein has worked extensively with cypin, a protein that regulates dendrite numbers (a news release is posted online at ur.rutgers.edu/medrel/viewArticle.html?ArticleID=3708). Cypin works on tubulin, a protein that is a structural building block of the dendrite skeleton. Now Firestein’s research group has turned its attention to the protein snapin. When snapin binds to cypin, tubulin is crowded out, so fewer dendrites assemble and more branching occurs.

When researchers overexpressed snapin in hippocampal neurons in the lab, the number of primary dendrites growing out of the cell body decreased, but many more secondary dendrites branched off them.

"This is significant not just in identifying snapin as a protein that shapes the dendrites, but also in pinpointing a drug target where one can regulate the interaction of snapin with cypin," Firestein explained.

Both of these proteins have many other functions in the nerve cell environment and elsewhere in the body. "We need to change cypin’s function for branching but not its other functions," Firestein said. "Rather than a drug that blocks cypin, we need a drug that affects the binding between the cypin and snapin. This is easier to design and cypin can still function with the other proteins it binds to."

Firestein’s goal is to build "a core pathway of dendric branching" – a sequence of steps, each affecting the next, with cypin at the center. "Our pathway says cypin does this; now what regulates cypin? Here snapin has a role. And what does snapin regulate?" said Firestein. "Our hope is in ten years, we will have a whole pathway mapped out so that we can target different points in the pathway with new drugs."

Joseph Blumberg | EurekAlert!
Further information:
http://www.rutgers.edu
http://www.molbiolcell.org/in_press.shtml

More articles from Life Sciences:

nachricht New risk factors for anxiety disorders
24.02.2017 | Julius-Maximilians-Universität Würzburg

nachricht Stingless bees have their nests protected by soldiers
24.02.2017 | Johannes Gutenberg-Universität Mainz

All articles from Life Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

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

Im Focus: Breakthrough with a chain of gold atoms

In the field of nanoscience, an international team of physicists with participants from Konstanz has achieved a breakthrough in understanding heat transport

In the field of nanoscience, an international team of physicists with participants from Konstanz has achieved a breakthrough in understanding heat transport

Im Focus: DNA repair: a new letter in the cell alphabet

Results reveal how discoveries may be hidden in scientific “blind spots”

Cells need to repair damaged DNA in our genes to prevent the development of cancer and other diseases. Our cells therefore activate and send “repair-proteins”...

Im Focus: Dresdner scientists print tomorrow’s world

The Fraunhofer IWS Dresden and Technische Universität Dresden inaugurated their jointly operated Center for Additive Manufacturing Dresden (AMCD) with a festive ceremony on February 7, 2017. Scientists from various disciplines perform research on materials, additive manufacturing processes and innovative technologies, which build up components in a layer by layer process. This technology opens up new horizons for component design and combinations of functions. For example during fabrication, electrical conductors and sensors are already able to be additively manufactured into components. They provide information about stress conditions of a product during operation.

The 3D-printing technology, or additive manufacturing as it is often called, has long made the step out of scientific research laboratories into industrial...

Im Focus: Mimicking nature's cellular architectures via 3-D printing

Research offers new level of control over the structure of 3-D printed materials

Nature does amazing things with limited design materials. Grass, for example, can support its own weight, resist strong wind loads, and recover after being...

Im Focus: Three Magnetic States for Each Hole

Nanometer-scale magnetic perforated grids could create new possibilities for computing. Together with international colleagues, scientists from the Helmholtz Zentrum Dresden-Rossendorf (HZDR) have shown how a cobalt grid can be reliably programmed at room temperature. In addition they discovered that for every hole ("antidot") three magnetic states can be configured. The results have been published in the journal "Scientific Reports".

Physicist Dr. Rantej Bali from the HZDR, together with scientists from Singapore and Australia, designed a special grid structure in a thin layer of cobalt in...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

Booth and panel discussion – The Lindau Nobel Laureate Meetings at the AAAS 2017 Annual Meeting

13.02.2017 | Event News

Complex Loading versus Hidden Reserves

10.02.2017 | Event News

International Conference on Crystal Growth in Freiburg

09.02.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

Stingless bees have their nests protected by soldiers

24.02.2017 | Life Sciences

New risk factors for anxiety disorders

24.02.2017 | Life Sciences

MWC 2017: 5G Capital Berlin

24.02.2017 | Trade Fair News

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>