Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Rutgers researcher uncovers new gene for fear factor

18.11.2005


Findings could pave the way to treatment of anxiety disorders

Rutgers geneticist Gleb Shumyatsky has discovered a gene that controls both innate and learned forms of fear. The gene, known as Stathmin or Oncoprotein 18, is highly concentrated in the amygdala, a key region of the brain that deals with fear and anxiety.
"This is a major advance in the field of learning and memory that will allow for a better understanding of post traumatic stress disorder, phobias, borderline personality disorder and other human anxiety diseases," said Shumyatsky, an assistant professor of genetics at Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey. "It will provide important information on how learned and innate fear is experienced and processed, and may point the way to apply new therapies."


In collaboration with Nobel laureate Eric Kandel at Columbia University and Vadim Bolshakov at Harvard Medical School, Shumyatsky had previously identified another gene that controlled learned but not innate fear. The new research being reported by Shumyatski, Kandel et al. is the first major attempt to analyze how both learned and innate fear is controlled at the molecular level.

Shumyatsky, his collaborators and their laboratory colleagues have been able to correlate changes in the expression of Stathmin to changes in short-term or long-term strength of nerve impulses and fear responses. They relied on a combination of mouse genetics, cellular electrophysiology and behavior. The team’s collaborative findings are presented in the Nov. 18 issue of the journal Cell Online.

Stathmin knockout mice, or mutants bred to be deficient in this gene, showed an increase in the amount of microtubules. These are the building blocks of the dendrite skeleton and also serve as paths for certain proteins to follow, proteins that govern the strength of the connections between neurons (synapses). In the absence of Stathmin, microtubule dynamics (meaning the speed and flexibility of building these paths) are likely to be decreased and may lead to the weakening of the synaptic connections.

This is consistent with a significant reduction in long-term potentiation or LTP – the lasting, strengthened electrical connections between neurons that are regarded as a molecular model for memory. The reduction was specifically observed in pathways incoming to the amygdala in the knockout mice.

The microtubule increase, and the LTP decrease, may be at the root of the noted failure in the mice to remember the lessons of learned fear, such as avoiding places that gave electric shocks. In addition, the researchers analyzed Stathmin-deficient mice for their anxiety levels by recording their performance in mazes. Mice instinctively avoid open spaces, but the knockout mice showed no fear and consistently explored more open areas than normal mice. Thus, reductions in innate fear behaviors, such as avoiding open spaces as opposed to "safer" areas with less exposure, correlated with the absence of Stathmin.

Shumyatsky explained that the difference between the earlier research paper and the current one is that the first described a gene that is expressed in the learned fear circuitry and controls ONLY learned fear but not innate fear. The new paper describes a gene that controls both learned AND innate fear. This work therefore emphasizes the importance of local gene expression in the neural circuits responsible for specific behaviors. In addition, Shumyatsky said that the gene is a negative regulator of microtubule formation and consequently microtubule dynamics are important for fear expression and fear learning.

"This study provides genetic evidence that amygdala-enriched Stathmin is required for the expression of innate fear and the formation of memory for learned fear," the authors concluded. "Stathmin knockout mice can be used as a model of anxiety states of mental disorders with innate and learned fear components (and) these animal models could be used to develop new anti-anxiety agents," they added.

Joseph Blumberg | EurekAlert!
Further information:
http://www.rutgers.edu

More articles from Life Sciences:

nachricht New photocatalyst speeds up the conversion of carbon dioxide into chemical resources
29.05.2017 | DGIST (Daegu Gyeongbuk Institute of Science and Technology)

nachricht Copper hydroxide nanoparticles provide protection against toxic oxygen radicals in cigarette smoke
29.05.2017 | 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: Strathclyde-led research develops world's highest gain high-power laser amplifier

The world's highest gain high power laser amplifier - by many orders of magnitude - has been developed in research led at the University of Strathclyde.

The researchers demonstrated the feasibility of using plasma to amplify short laser pulses of picojoule-level energy up to 100 millijoules, which is a 'gain'...

Im Focus: Can the immune system be boosted against Staphylococcus aureus by delivery of messenger RNA?

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....

Im Focus: A quantum walk of photons

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....

Im Focus: Turmoil in sluggish electrons’ existence

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...

Im Focus: Wafer-thin Magnetic Materials Developed for Future Quantum Technologies

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...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

Marine Conservation: IASS Contributes to UN Ocean Conference in New York on 5-9 June

24.05.2017 | Event News

AWK Aachen Machine Tool Colloquium 2017: Internet of Production for Agile Enterprises

23.05.2017 | Event News

Dortmund MST Conference presents Individualized Healthcare Solutions with micro and nanotechnology

22.05.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

New insights into the ancestors of all complex life

29.05.2017 | Earth Sciences

New photocatalyst speeds up the conversion of carbon dioxide into chemical resources

29.05.2017 | Life Sciences

NASA's SDO sees partial eclipse in space

29.05.2017 | Physics and Astronomy

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>