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 IU-led study reveals new insights into light color sensing and transfer of genetic traits
06.05.2016 | Indiana University

nachricht Thievish hoverfly steals prey from carnivorous sundews
06.05.2016 | Staatliche Naturwissenschaftliche Sammlungen Bayerns

All articles from Life Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

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

Im Focus: Nuclear Pores Captured on Film

Using an ultra fast-scanning atomic force microscope, a team of researchers from the University of Basel has filmed “living” nuclear pore complexes at work for the first time. Nuclear pores are molecular machines that control the traffic entering or exiting the cell nucleus. In their article published in Nature Nanotechnology, the researchers explain how the passage of unwanted molecules is prevented by rapidly moving molecular “tentacles” inside the pore.

Using high-speed AFM, Roderick Lim, Argovia Professor at the Biozentrum and the Swiss Nanoscience Institute of the University of Basel, has not only directly...

Im Focus: 2+1 is Not Always 3 - In the microworld unity is not always strength

If a person pushes a broken-down car alone, there is a certain effect. If another person helps, the result is the sum of their efforts. If two micro-particles are pushing another microparticle, however, the resulting effect may not necessarily be the sum their efforts. A recent study published in Nature Communications, measured this odd effect that scientists call “many body.”

In the microscopic world, where the modern miniaturized machines at the new frontiers of technology operate, as long as we are in the presence of two...

Im Focus: Tiny microbots that can clean up water

Researchers from the Max Planck Institute Stuttgart have developed self-propelled tiny ‘microbots’ that can remove lead or organic pollution from contaminated water.

Working with colleagues in Barcelona and Singapore, Samuel Sánchez’s group used graphene oxide to make their microscale motors, which are able to adsorb lead...

Im Focus: ORNL researchers discover new state of water molecule

Neutron scattering and computational modeling have revealed unique and unexpected behavior of water molecules under extreme confinement that is unmatched by any known gas, liquid or solid states.

In a paper published in Physical Review Letters, researchers at the Department of Energy's Oak Ridge National Laboratory describe a new tunneling state of...

Im Focus: Bionic Lightweight Design researchers of the Alfred Wegener Institute at Hannover Messe 2016

Honeycomb structures as the basic building block for industrial applications presented using holo pyramid

Researchers of the Alfred Wegener Institute (AWI) will introduce their latest developments in the field of bionic lightweight design at Hannover Messe from 25...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

The “AC21 International Forum 2016” is About to Begin

27.04.2016 | Event News

Soft switching combines efficiency and improved electro-magnetic compatibility

15.04.2016 | Event News

Grid-Supportive Buildings Give Boost to Renewable Energy Integration

12.04.2016 | Event News

 
Latest News

Expanding tropics pushing high altitude clouds towards poles, NASA study finds

06.05.2016 | Earth Sciences

IU-led study reveals new insights into light color sensing and transfer of genetic traits

06.05.2016 | Life Sciences

Thievish hoverfly steals prey from carnivorous sundews

06.05.2016 | Life Sciences

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>