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 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 >>>