Implications for study of memory, learning, and cognition
Image of a neuron. Dendrites (highlighted by arrows), which branch from the cell body of the neuron, detect the electrical and chemical signals transmitted to the neuron by the axons of other neurons. (Credit: Kevin Miyashiro and James Eberwine, University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine)
Researchers at the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine have discovered that nerve-cell dendrites have the capacity to splice messenger RNA (pre-mRNA), a process once believed to only take place in the nucleus of cells. By uncovering this capability in dendrites, the investigators hope to relate this capacity to memory and learning, as well as cognitive dysfunction. Senior author James Eberwine, PhD, Professor of Pharmacology, and lead authors Kevin Miyashiro, and Jason Glanzer, PhD, both in Eberwines lab, report their findings in this weeks early online edition of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.
Dendrites, which branch from the cell body of the neuron, play a key role in the communication between cells of the nervous system, allowing for many neurons to connect with each other to form a network. Dendrites detect the electrical and chemical signals transmitted to the neuron by the axons of other neurons. The synapse is the neuronal structure where this chemical connection is formed, and investigators surmise that the synapse is where learning and memory occur.
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