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
When Air is in Short Supply - Shedding light on plant stress reactions when oxygen runs short
23.03.2017 | Institut für Pflanzenbiochemie
WPI team grows heart tissue on spinach leaves
23.03.2017 | Worcester Polytechnic Institute
Astronomers from Bonn and Tautenburg in Thuringia (Germany) used the 100-m radio telescope at Effelsberg to observe several galaxy clusters. At the edges of these large accumulations of dark matter, stellar systems (galaxies), hot gas, and charged particles, they found magnetic fields that are exceptionally ordered over distances of many million light years. This makes them the most extended magnetic fields in the universe known so far.
The results will be published on March 22 in the journal „Astronomy & Astrophysics“.
Galaxy clusters are the largest gravitationally bound structures in the universe. With a typical extent of about 10 million light years, i.e. 100 times the...
Researchers at the Goethe University Frankfurt, together with partners from the University of Tübingen in Germany and Queen Mary University as well as Francis Crick Institute from London (UK) have developed a novel technology to decipher the secret ubiquitin code.
Ubiquitin is a small protein that can be linked to other cellular proteins, thereby controlling and modulating their functions. The attachment occurs in many...
In the eternal search for next generation high-efficiency solar cells and LEDs, scientists at Los Alamos National Laboratory and their partners are creating...
Silicon nanosheets are thin, two-dimensional layers with exceptional optoelectronic properties very similar to those of graphene. Albeit, the nanosheets are less stable. Now researchers at the Technical University of Munich (TUM) have, for the first time ever, produced a composite material combining silicon nanosheets and a polymer that is both UV-resistant and easy to process. This brings the scientists a significant step closer to industrial applications like flexible displays and photosensors.
Silicon nanosheets are thin, two-dimensional layers with exceptional optoelectronic properties very similar to those of graphene. Albeit, the nanosheets are...
Enzymes behave differently in a test tube compared with the molecular scrum of a living cell. Chemists from the University of Basel have now been able to simulate these confined natural conditions in artificial vesicles for the first time. As reported in the academic journal Small, the results are offering better insight into the development of nanoreactors and artificial organelles.
Enzymes behave differently in a test tube compared with the molecular scrum of a living cell. Chemists from the University of Basel have now been able to...
20.03.2017 | Event News
14.03.2017 | Event News
07.03.2017 | Event News
23.03.2017 | Life Sciences
23.03.2017 | Power and Electrical Engineering
23.03.2017 | Earth Sciences