Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Protein’s potential as a regulator of brain activity discovered

21.04.2006
UCI study points to new therapeutic possibilities for epilepsy and neurodegenerative diseases

UC Irvine researchers have found that a protein best known for building connections between nerve cells and muscle also plays a role in controlling brain cell activity. The finding points to possible therapeutic applications in the development of new drugs for treatment of epilepsy and neurodegenerative disorders.

Martin Smith, professor of anatomy and neurobiology in the School of Medicine, and his UCI colleagues discovered that agrin -- a protein that directs synapse formation between nerve and muscle cells -- can also inhibit the function of "pumps" that control sodium and potassium levels within cells.

These pumps, called sodium-potassium ATPases -- or sodium pumps, for short -- are especially important in electrically excitable cells, where they provide the basis for electrical impulses, known as action potentials, which are responsible for muscle contraction and signaling between nerve cells in the brain. They do this by pumping sodium out of a cell and pumping potassium in, setting up an electrochemical gradient -- in a sense, turning the cell into a battery.

If this activity isn’t properly moderated, uncontrollable electrical impulses can be triggered, which is one of the cellular mechanisms behind an epileptic seizure, for instance.

This is where agrin comes into action. The UCI researchers observed in laboratory tests that agrin controls the excitability of nerve cells in the brain by regulating sodium pump activity. Adding agrin caused nerve cells to fire electrical impulses uncontrollably. In turn, the researchers found that they could block these electrical impulses by introducing small fragments of agrin, which prevented the full agrin proteins from binding their sites on the sodium pump molecules and initiating action potentials.

"The ability of agrin to modulate nerve cell excitability suggests that the agrin-sodium pump interactions can be exploited as a novel therapeutic target for epilepsy and other brain disorders," Smith said.

Agrin proteins are also expressed in heart tissue, and Smith notes that sodium pump inhibitors, such as digoxin, are commonly used to treat congestive heart failure. Agrin may, therefore, have therapeutic value for the treatment of diseases affecting tissues and organs outside of the brain.

Tom Vasich | EurekAlert!
Further information:
http://www.uci.edu
http://www.today.uci.edu

More articles from Life Sciences:

nachricht Multi-institutional collaboration uncovers how molecular machines assemble
02.12.2016 | Salk Institute

nachricht Fertilized egg cells trigger and monitor loss of sperm’s epigenetic memory
02.12.2016 | IMBA - Institut für Molekulare Biotechnologie der Österreichischen Akademie der Wissenschaften GmbH

All articles from Life Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

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

Im Focus: Novel silicon etching technique crafts 3-D gradient refractive index micro-optics

A multi-institutional research collaboration has created a novel approach for fabricating three-dimensional micro-optics through the shape-defined formation of porous silicon (PSi), with broad impacts in integrated optoelectronics, imaging, and photovoltaics.

Working with colleagues at Stanford and The Dow Chemical Company, researchers at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign fabricated 3-D birefringent...

Im Focus: Quantum Particles Form Droplets

In experiments with magnetic atoms conducted at extremely low temperatures, scientists have demonstrated a unique phase of matter: The atoms form a new type of quantum liquid or quantum droplet state. These so called quantum droplets may preserve their form in absence of external confinement because of quantum effects. The joint team of experimental physicists from Innsbruck and theoretical physicists from Hannover report on their findings in the journal Physical Review X.

“Our Quantum droplets are in the gas phase but they still drop like a rock,” explains experimental physicist Francesca Ferlaino when talking about the...

Im Focus: MADMAX: Max Planck Institute for Physics takes up axion research

The Max Planck Institute for Physics (MPP) is opening up a new research field. A workshop from November 21 - 22, 2016 will mark the start of activities for an innovative axion experiment. Axions are still only purely hypothetical particles. Their detection could solve two fundamental problems in particle physics: What dark matter consists of and why it has not yet been possible to directly observe a CP violation for the strong interaction.

The “MADMAX” project is the MPP’s commitment to axion research. Axions are so far only a theoretical prediction and are difficult to detect: on the one hand,...

Im Focus: Molecules change shape when wet

Broadband rotational spectroscopy unravels structural reshaping of isolated molecules in the gas phase to accommodate water

In two recent publications in the Journal of Chemical Physics and in the Journal of Physical Chemistry Letters, researchers around Melanie Schnell from the Max...

Im Focus: Fraunhofer ISE Develops Highly Compact, High Frequency DC/DC Converter for Aviation

The efficiency of power electronic systems is not solely dependent on electrical efficiency but also on weight, for example, in mobile systems. When the weight of relevant components and devices in airplanes, for instance, is reduced, fuel savings can be achieved and correspondingly greenhouse gas emissions decreased. New materials and components based on gallium nitride (GaN) can help to reduce weight and increase the efficiency. With these new materials, power electronic switches can be operated at higher switching frequency, resulting in higher power density and lower material costs.

Researchers at the Fraunhofer Institute for Solar Energy Systems ISE together with partners have investigated how these materials can be used to make power...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

ICTM Conference 2017: Production technology for turbomachine manufacturing of the future

16.11.2016 | Event News

Innovation Day Laser Technology – Laser Additive Manufacturing

01.11.2016 | Event News

#IC2S2: When Social Science meets Computer Science - GESIS will host the IC2S2 conference 2017

14.10.2016 | Event News

 
Latest News

UTSA study describes new minimally invasive device to treat cancer and other illnesses

02.12.2016 | Medical Engineering

Plasma-zapping process could yield trans fat-free soybean oil product

02.12.2016 | Agricultural and Forestry Science

What do Netflix, Google and planetary systems have in common?

02.12.2016 | Physics and Astronomy

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>