But this is now refuted by new findings by Uppsala University researchers who show that the protein is absolutely crucial to our respiration. The study is being published in the latest issue of the highly prestigious Journal of Neuroscience.
“These were entirely unexpected and extremely exciting findings. They clearly show that the protein we suspected was so important to mobility patterns in fact were not,” says Klas Kullander, a researcher in genetic developmental biology at Uppsala University and lead author of the study.
His research deals with the use of genetically modified mice to identify nerve circuits that govern various bodily functions. Above all, he has focused on motor movement, which is relatively simple, since it all starts in the spinal cord.
“It constitutes a sort of ‘mini-brain’ that produces rhythms and coordinates movements without any input from the brain,” Klas Kullander explains.
The protein VGLUT2 exists in two commonly occurring variants and is used in the communication between nerve cells. This protein is necessary for glutamate, which exists in tiny swellings in the ends of the nerve cells (synapses), to be released to relay signals from one nerve cell to the next. One variant, VGLUT1, has been shown by other scientists to be of no significance in motor patterns. Mice without this gene can move but evince certain other neurological defects. Using this fact as a point of departure, the Uppsala team examined the other variant instead, which moreover is much more prevalent in the spinal cord. It proved to be not at all important in movement patterns, but rather for breathing. As early as the fetal period, the musculature of the lungs is exercised by “water breathing.” But in mouse embryos without VGLUT2 the lungs were never used and therefore were unable to breathe air when the mice were born.
“This possibility of knocking out certain specific genes in mice, which are genetically very similar to humans, provides us with new and important genetic knowledge about the functions of the nervous system that may lead to tremendous medical advances,” says Klas Kullander.
Anneli Waara | alfa
Researchers invent tiny, light-powered wires to modulate brain's electrical signals
21.02.2018 | University of Chicago
The “Holy Grail” of peptide chemistry: Making peptide active agents available orally
21.02.2018 | Technische Universität München
For the first time, a team of researchers at the Max-Planck Institute (MPI) for Polymer Research in Mainz, Germany, has succeeded in making an integrated circuit (IC) from just a monolayer of a semiconducting polymer via a bottom-up, self-assembly approach.
In the self-assembly process, the semiconducting polymer arranges itself into an ordered monolayer in a transistor. The transistors are binary switches used...
Breakthrough provides a new concept of the design of molecular motors, sensors and electricity generators at nanoscale
Researchers from the Institute of Organic Chemistry and Biochemistry of the CAS (IOCB Prague), Institute of Physics of the CAS (IP CAS) and Palacký University...
For photographers and scientists, lenses are lifesavers. They reflect and refract light, making possible the imaging systems that drive discovery through the microscope and preserve history through cameras.
But today's glass-based lenses are bulky and resist miniaturization. Next-generation technologies, such as ultrathin cameras or tiny microscopes, require...
Scientists from the University of Zurich have succeeded for the first time in tracking individual stem cells and their neuronal progeny over months within the intact adult brain. This study sheds light on how new neurons are produced throughout life.
The generation of new nerve cells was once thought to taper off at the end of embryonic development. However, recent research has shown that the adult brain...
Theoretical physicists propose to use negative interference to control heat flow in quantum devices. Study published in Physical Review Letters
Quantum computer parts are sensitive and need to be cooled to very low temperatures. Their tiny size makes them particularly susceptible to a temperature...
15.02.2018 | Event News
13.02.2018 | Event News
12.02.2018 | Event News
21.02.2018 | Life Sciences
21.02.2018 | Life Sciences
21.02.2018 | Materials Sciences