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 Cancer: Molecularly shutting down cancer cachexia
30.08.2016 | Helmholtz Zentrum München - Deutsches Forschungszentrum für Gesundheit und Umwelt

nachricht Bringing artificial enzymes closer to nature
30.08.2016 | Universität Basel

All articles from Life Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

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

Im Focus: Streamlining accelerated computing for industry

PyFR code combines high accuracy with flexibility to resolve unsteady turbulence problems

Scientists and engineers striving to create the next machine-age marvel--whether it be a more aerodynamic rocket, a faster race car, or a higher-efficiency jet...

Im Focus: X-ray optics on a chip

Waveguides are widely used for filtering, confining, guiding, coupling or splitting beams of visible light. However, creating waveguides that could do the same for X-rays has posed tremendous challenges in fabrication, so they are still only in an early stage of development.

In the latest issue of Acta Crystallographica Section A: Foundations and Advances , Sarah Hoffmann-Urlaub and Tim Salditt report the fabrication and testing of...

Im Focus: Piggyback battery for microchips: TU Graz researchers develop new battery concept

Electrochemists at TU Graz have managed to use monocrystalline semiconductor silicon as an active storage electrode in lithium batteries. This enables an integrated power supply to be made for microchips with a rechargeable battery.

Small electrical gadgets, such as mobile phones, tablets or notebooks, are indispensable accompaniments of everyday life. Integrated circuits in the interiors...

Im Focus: UCI physicists confirm possible discovery of fifth force of nature

Light particle could be key to understanding dark matter in universe

Recent findings indicating the possible discovery of a previously unknown subatomic particle may be evidence of a fifth fundamental force of nature, according...

Im Focus: Wi-fi from lasers

White light from lasers demonstrates data speeds of up to 2 GB/s

A nanocrystalline material that rapidly makes white light out of blue light has been developed by KAUST researchers.

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

The energy transition is not possible without Geotechnics

25.08.2016 | Event News

New Ideas for the Shipping Industry

24.08.2016 | Event News

A week of excellence: 22 of the world’s best computer scientists and mathematicians in Heidelberg

12.08.2016 | Event News

 
Latest News

Solar houses scientifically evaluated

30.08.2016 | Power and Electrical Engineering

Amazon forests: Biodiversity can help mitigate climate risks

30.08.2016 | Life Sciences

Bringing artificial enzymes closer to nature

30.08.2016 | Life Sciences

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>