Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Protein protects against nerve degeneration

04.12.2006
A protein called NMNAT protects against nerve cell degeneration in fruit flies and mice, said Baylor College of Medicine researchers in a report in the Public Library of Science Biology that appears online today.

The finding begs the question if a drug might be developed that could stimulate extra protein production and thus neuronal protection – both in injured cells and in those degenerating because of disease, said Dr. Hugo Bellen, the paper's senior author, director of the BCM Program in Developmental Biology and a Howard Hughes Medical Institute investigator. While more work needs to be done to determine whether that would be desirable, Bellen said the finding is an important one because it identifies NMNAT as essential in the life of the body's neurons.

Much of the work described in the paper was done by its first author, Dr. R. Grace Zhai, a postdoctoral fellow in Bellen's laboratory.

The story began two decades ago when researchers in the U.K. discovered a mouse whose injured nerve cells were slow to die. Even when the nerve was cut, it had some function two weeks later while in a normal mouse injured nerves are non-functional within two days, said Bellen.

... more about:
»Bellen »Degeneration »NMNAT »Nerve

Five years ago, researchers discovered that the mice had three copies of a gene for a protein that was a fusion of NMNAT and another protein. Bellen and his colleagues sought to determine whether NMNAT was actually protective by studying mutant forms of it in fruit flies or Drosophila melanogaster, a commonly used model organism. NMNAT exists in a single state in the fruit fly, and there is only one form of it.

When Zhai, Bellen and colleagues bred flies that lack the protein in their visual system, they found that the neurons degenerated very rapidly. However, the degeneration could be slowed by keeping the flies in the dark and preventing their visual neurons from activating.

"In the absence of the NMNAT protein, the photoreceptors in the eye develop normally. They send out axons (tendril extension of the nerve that grow into the brain) and make synapses (the functional connection between a nerve axon and the target cell)," said Bellen.

However, late in the development of the eye, the insects in the pupal stage begin to sense light. As the neurons become active, they degenerate rapidly. Within two weeks after birth, there are almost no neurons left.

"Here is a case where the protein is required for the maintenance of the neuron," said Bellen.

When flies were raised in the dark, the neurons died, but at very slow pace when compared to those exposed to light.

"Activity clearly causes a massive degeneration," he said.

When they exposed flies that made large quantities of NMNAT in the eye to bright sunlight for 30 days, they found that only 20 percent of the neurons died – not the 80 percent that would have been expected.

"This protein can delay the neuronal degeneration process if it is present at a high level," said Bellen.

They also found that NMNAT alone and not the enzyme partner found in mice and other vertebrates was sufficient to protect the neurons.

Bellen said more work needs to be done to identify the mechanisms at work in the neuronal protection and to determine how to prompt cells to increase productions of the protein.

Ross Tomlin | EurekAlert!
Further information:
http://www.bcm.edu

Further reports about: Bellen Degeneration NMNAT Nerve

More articles from Life Sciences:

nachricht Researchers identify potentially druggable mutant p53 proteins that promote cancer growth
09.12.2016 | Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory

nachricht Plant-based substance boosts eyelash growth
09.12.2016 | Fraunhofer-Institut für Angewandte Polymerforschung IAP

All articles from Life Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

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

Im Focus: Electron highway inside crystal

Physicists of the University of Würzburg have made an astonishing discovery in a specific type of topological insulators. The effect is due to the structure of the materials used. The researchers have now published their work in the journal Science.

Topological insulators are currently the hot topic in physics according to the newspaper Neue Zürcher Zeitung. Only a few weeks ago, their importance was...

Im Focus: Significantly more productivity in USP lasers

In recent years, lasers with ultrashort pulses (USP) down to the femtosecond range have become established on an industrial scale. They could advance some applications with the much-lauded “cold ablation” – if that meant they would then achieve more throughput. A new generation of process engineering that will address this issue in particular will be discussed at the “4th UKP Workshop – Ultrafast Laser Technology” in April 2017.

Even back in the 1990s, scientists were comparing materials processing with nanosecond, picosecond and femtosesecond pulses. The result was surprising:...

Im Focus: Shape matters when light meets atom

Mapping the interaction of a single atom with a single photon may inform design of quantum devices

Have you ever wondered how you see the world? Vision is about photons of light, which are packets of energy, interacting with the atoms or molecules in what...

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...

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

Researchers identify potentially druggable mutant p53 proteins that promote cancer growth

09.12.2016 | Life Sciences

Scientists produce a new roadmap for guiding development & conservation in the Amazon

09.12.2016 | Ecology, The Environment and Conservation

Satellites, airport visibility readings shed light on troops' exposure to air pollution

09.12.2016 | Health and Medicine

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>