Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Research reveals new depths of complexity in nerve cells

25.03.2014

Research from the Oklahoma Medical Research Foundation reveals a new complexity to nerve cells in the brain that could affect future therapies aimed at altering mood and memory in humans.

OMRF scientist Kenneth Miller, Ph.D., studied the function of a common protein (known as CaM Kinase II) in tiny roundworms called C. elegans. His research appears in the latest issue of the journal Genetics.  

“CaM Kinase II is very abundant in the brain, so it has been heavily studied,” Miller said. “But this is the first time anybody has seen results like this.”

Using a method called “forward genetics,” Miller’s lab randomly screened thousands of mutant worms for defects in neuropeptide storage and unexpectedly identified mutant worms lacking CaM Kinase II. Further analysis revealed that CaM Kinase II plays a significant role in controlling when and where neuropeptides are released from neurons.

Neuropeptides are small protein-like molecules that nerve cells in the brain use to communicate with each other. Disruptions in that communication can affect learning, memory, social behaviors and mood.

They are created and stored in containers called dense-core vesicles. Under normal conditions they are only released from those containers in response to appropriate signals in the brain.

“We tagged the neuropeptides with a fluorescent protein so we could see where they went,” Miller said. “In the worms that were missing the gene that makes CaM Kinase II, the neuropeptides were virtually missing altogether in the parts of the neurons where we expected them.”

That’s because without the protein, the dense core vesicles couldn’t hold onto the neuropeptides. Instead they were all released before they got transported to their storage location, he said. In humans, such an event would be extremely unpredictable, possibly even causing a psychotic episode, Miller said.

“This is a very significant demonstration of how neurons and likely other neuroendocrine cells package neuropeptides, move them around the cell, and release them where they will be most effective,” said Michael Sesma, Ph.D., of the National Institute of Health’s National Institute of General Medical Sciences, which partially funded the research. “The high-resolution visualization inside entire living neurons achieved by Dr. Miller and his colleagues is a technical tour de force, and also demonstrates the enormous value of the genetic model system C. elegans for studying the internal workings of living cells.”

By understanding more about how neurons work, Miller said physicians and drug developers will be able to finely hone their targets when working with patients.

“Before this research, we didn’t even know that neurons had this special mechanism to control neuropeptide function,” he said. “This is why we do basic research. This is why it’s important to understand how neurons work, down to the subcellular and molecular levels.”

Research for this paper was funded by NIGMS grant No. GM080765.

Greg Elwell | EurekAlert!
Further information:
http://omrf.org/2014/03/20/research-reveals-new-depths-of-complexity-in-nerve-cells/

Further reports about: Genetics Kinase internal mechanism neuropeptides protein signals

More articles from Life Sciences:

nachricht Protein Shake-Up
27.03.2015 | Oak Ridge National Laboratory

nachricht How did the chicken cross the sea?
27.03.2015 | Michigan State University

All articles from Life Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

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

Im Focus: Experiment Provides the Best Look Yet at 'Warm Dense Matter' at Cores of Giant Planets

In an experiment at the Department of Energy's SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory, scientists precisely measured the temperature and structure of aluminum as...

Im Focus: Energy-autonomous and wireless monitoring protects marine gearboxes

The IPH presents a solution at HANNOVER MESSE 2015 to make ship traffic more reliable while decreasing the maintenance costs at the same time. In cooperation with project partners, the research institute from Hannover, Germany, has developed a sensor system which continuously monitors the condition of the marine gearbox, thus preventing breakdowns. Special feature: the monitoring system works wirelessly and energy-autonomously. The required electrical power is generated where it is needed – directly at the sensor.

As well as cars need to be certified regularly (in Germany by the TÜV – Technical Inspection Association), ships need to be inspected – if the powertrain stops...

Im Focus: 3-D satellite, GPS earthquake maps isolate impacts in real time

Method produced by UI researcher could improve reaction time to deadly, expensive quakes

When an earthquake hits, the faster first responders can get to an impacted area, the more likely infrastructure--and lives--can be saved.

Im Focus: Atlantic Ocean overturning found to slow down already today

The Atlantic overturning is one of Earth’s most important heat transport systems, pumping warm water northwards and cold water southwards. Also known as the Gulf Stream system, it is responsible for the mild climate in northwestern Europe. 

Scientists now found evidence for a slowdown of the overturning – multiple lines of observation suggest that in recent decades, the current system has been...

Im Focus: Robot inspects concrete garage floors and bridge roadways for damage

Because they are regularly subjected to heavy vehicle traffic, emissions, moisture and salt, above- and underground parking garages, as well as bridges, frequently experience large areas of corrosion. Most inspection systems to date have only been capable of inspecting smaller surface areas.

From April 13 to April 17 at the Hannover Messe (hall 2, exhibit booth C16), engineers from the Fraunhofer Institute for Nondestructive Testing IZFP will be...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

World Conference On Regenerative Medicine 2015: Registration And Abstract Submission Now Open

25.03.2015 | Event News

University presidents from all over the world meet in Hamburg

19.03.2015 | Event News

10. CeBiTec Symposium zum Big Data-Problem

17.03.2015 | Event News

 
Latest News

Electric vehicle range in 450,000 kilometer real-world test

30.03.2015 | Studies and Analyses

Two Most Destructive Termite Species Forming Superswarms in South Florida

27.03.2015 | Agricultural and Forestry Science

ORNL-Led Team Demonstrates Desalination with Nanoporous Graphene Membrane

27.03.2015 | Materials Sciences

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>