Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Hopkins researchers uncover critical player in cell communication

09.10.2006
Implications for cause of rare cognitive disorder

Johns Hopkins researchers have teased out the function of a protein implicated in Williams-Beuren syndrome, a rare cognitive disorder associated with overly social behavior and lack of spatial awareness. Called TFII-I, or TF "two eye," the protein long known to help control a cell's genes also controls how much calcium a cell takes in, a function critical for all cells, including nerves in the brain. The study will be published this week in Science.

"While the previously described function of TFII-I very well also could contribute to the cognitive defects of Williams-Beuren syndrome, its role controlling calcium makes much more sense," says Stephen Desiderio, M.D., Ph.D., a professor of molecular biology and genetics and director of the Institute of Basic Biomedical Sciences at Hopkins. And, says Desiderio, others have shown that defects in a cell's ability to take in calcium can lead to other neurological and behavioral conditions.

Williams-Beuren syndrome is associated with craniofacial defects, problems with the aorta and a very specific mental retardation that causes those affected to be talkative, sociable and empathetic but at the same time have significant spatial learning defects. Those affected are highly expressive, have exceptionally strong language abilities and "can talk up a storm," for example. But at the same time, they are poor at global organization, having problems re-creating patterns in drawings. The syndrome occurs in roughly one in 25,000 births and is caused by a deletion of a small section of chromosome 7 that contains several genes, including the gene that encodes the TFII-I protein.

... more about:
»Calcium »Desiderio »Syndrome »TFII-I »defects

The discovery came after Desiderio and his team used biochemical "bait" to fish for candidate proteins that physically bind to TFII-I. The fishing expedition returned one protein known to control when and how much calcium a cell takes in.

"The partner we found in the fishing experiment and the abundance of TFII-I outside the cell nucleus led us to suspect that this protein must be doing more than regulate gene expression," says Desiderio.

Under normal conditions, calcium does not flow freely into and out of cells until a demand for it - such as a muscle contraction or nerve function -- triggers cells to take up the free floating element from their surroundings. Cells store calcium until still other signals occur to release it again.

"The finding was stunning to us because calcium is one of the most important messengers in cells," says Desiderio, "and both it and TFII-I are in every cell. That affirmed our suspicion that TFII-I could be doing something important with calcium signaling."

In one experiment, the Hopkins team knocked down the amount of TFII-I in lab-grown cells and looked for changes in calcium flow under a high-power microscope using a dye that glows when it comes in contact with calcium. A camera attached to the microscope recorded the brightness of the glow and fed that measure into a computer that calculates the amount of calcium.

Knocking down TFII-I and separately assaulting the cells with chemicals caused the cells to take up more calcium than usual.

The researchers realized that when they depleted the cells of TFII-I, the cell responded by installing more calcium channels in their surfaces that allow calcium and only calcium to enter the cell. "We think TFII-I must control calcium entry into the cell by somehow limiting the number of calcium channels at the cell's surface," says Desiderio.

"There's good evidence suggesting that the frequency and intensity of this ebb and flow of calcium can determine a cell's response to external cues," says Desiderio. "TFII-I may be a universal player in communication between cells, in the brain, the immune system and elsewhere."

Audrey Huang | EurekAlert!
Further information:
http://www.jhmi.edu

Further reports about: Calcium Desiderio Syndrome TFII-I defects

More articles from Life Sciences:

nachricht Symbiotic bacteria: from hitchhiker to beetle bodyguard
28.04.2017 | Johannes Gutenberg-Universität Mainz

nachricht Nose2Brain – Better Therapy for Multiple Sclerosis
28.04.2017 | Fraunhofer-Institut für Grenzflächen- und Bioverfahrenstechnik IGB

All articles from Life Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

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

Im Focus: Making lightweight construction suitable for series production

More and more automobile companies are focusing on body parts made of carbon fiber reinforced plastics (CFRP). However, manufacturing and repair costs must be further reduced in order to make CFRP more economical in use. Together with the Volkswagen AG and five other partners in the project HolQueSt 3D, the Laser Zentrum Hannover e.V. (LZH) has developed laser processes for the automatic trimming, drilling and repair of three-dimensional components.

Automated manufacturing processes are the basis for ultimately establishing the series production of CFRP components. In the project HolQueSt 3D, the LZH has...

Im Focus: Wonder material? Novel nanotube structure strengthens thin films for flexible electronics

Reflecting the structure of composites found in nature and the ancient world, researchers at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign have synthesized thin carbon nanotube (CNT) textiles that exhibit both high electrical conductivity and a level of toughness that is about fifty times higher than copper films, currently used in electronics.

"The structural robustness of thin metal films has significant importance for the reliable operation of smart skin and flexible electronics including...

Im Focus: Deep inside Galaxy M87

The nearby, giant radio galaxy M87 hosts a supermassive black hole (BH) and is well-known for its bright jet dominating the spectrum over ten orders of magnitude in frequency. Due to its proximity, jet prominence, and the large black hole mass, M87 is the best laboratory for investigating the formation, acceleration, and collimation of relativistic jets. A research team led by Silke Britzen from the Max Planck Institute for Radio Astronomy in Bonn, Germany, has found strong indication for turbulent processes connecting the accretion disk and the jet of that galaxy providing insights into the longstanding problem of the origin of astrophysical jets.

Supermassive black holes form some of the most enigmatic phenomena in astrophysics. Their enormous energy output is supposed to be generated by the...

Im Focus: A Quantum Low Pass for Photons

Physicists in Garching observe novel quantum effect that limits the number of emitted photons.

The probability to find a certain number of photons inside a laser pulse usually corresponds to a classical distribution of independent events, the so-called...

Im Focus: Microprocessors based on a layer of just three atoms

Microprocessors based on atomically thin materials hold the promise of the evolution of traditional processors as well as new applications in the field of flexible electronics. Now, a TU Wien research team led by Thomas Müller has made a breakthrough in this field as part of an ongoing research project.

Two-dimensional materials, or 2D materials for short, are extremely versatile, although – or often more precisely because – they are made up of just one or a...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

Fighting drug resistant tuberculosis – InfectoGnostics meets MYCO-NET² partners in Peru

28.04.2017 | Event News

Expert meeting “Health Business Connect” will connect international medical technology companies

20.04.2017 | Event News

Wenn der Computer das Gehirn austrickst

18.04.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

Wireless power can drive tiny electronic devices in the GI tract

28.04.2017 | Medical Engineering

Ice cave in Transylvania yields window into region's past

28.04.2017 | Earth Sciences

Nose2Brain – Better Therapy for Multiple Sclerosis

28.04.2017 | Life Sciences

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>