Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Store and Supply – How the Brain Saves Time

22.12.2016

Neurons in the brain store RNA molecules – DNA gene copies – in order to rapidly react to stimuli. This storage dramatically accelerates the production of proteins. This is one of the reasons why neurons in the brain can adapt quickly during learning processes. The recent results of a research group at the University of Basel’s Biozentrum have been published in the current issue of “Neuron”.

Our brain is not only the most complex organ of the human body, it is also the most flexible. But how do neurons in the brain adapt their function in response to stimuli within a very short time frame?


A storage of RNA molecules allows the brain to rapidly react to neuronal stimuli.

Image: University of Basel, Biozentrum

The research group of Prof. Peter Scheiffele at the Biozentrum, University of Basel, has demonstrated that neurons store a reserve stock of RNA molecules, copies of the DNA, in the cell’s nucleus. These RNA molecules form the blueprint for new proteins. After a neuronal stimulus, the stored RNA molecules are mobilized in order to adjust the function of the neuron. The process of RNA synthesis (DNA copying) is very slow, especially for large genes. Thus, this newly uncovered mechanism for mobilization of stored RNAs saves time and provides new insights regarding the fast adaptation of the brain during learning processes.

Storage for RNA molecules

... more about:
»BRAIN »DNA »RNA »RNA molecules »RNAs »genes »neurons »splicing

The RNA blueprint for proteins is produced by a sophisticated copying process: First, a basic RNA copy of the DNA is generated. From this copy, individual sections, so-called introns, are subsequently cut out to provide a finalized blueprint for the production of a specific protein. This process is called RNA splicing.

So far, it was assumed, that neuronal stimuli trigger the complete process for the production of new RNA molecules. However, the team of Peter Scheiffele now discovered that neurons in the brain pre-manufacture certain immature RNA copies which are only partially spliced. These RNA molecules still contain some introns and are stored in the cell nucleus. Signals induced by neuronal stimulation trigger the splicing completion of the immature RNA molecules.

“The copying process of the DNA, the so-called transcription, is already finalized in advance by the neurons. Hence, mature RNA molecules can be produced within minutes,” explains Oriane Mauger, the first author.

Prepared copies save time

For large genes, the production of the initial version of the RNAs itself takes dozens of hours. “The fact that the RNA molecules are already available in an immature form and only need to be completed, shortens the whole process to a few minutes”, says Mauger. “Since the transcription is very time-consuming, the storage of RNA means a significant time saving. This enables neurons to quickly adapt their function.”

“This study reveals a completely new regulatory mechanism for the brain”, declares Scheiffele. “The results provide us with a further explanation of how neurons steer rapid plasticity processes.”

Original source

Oriane Mauger, Frédéric Lemoine, and Peter Scheiffele
Targeted Intron Retention and Excision for Rapid Gene Regulation in Response to Neuronal Activity
Neuron (2016), doi: 10.1016/j.neuron.2016.11.032

Further information

Prof. Dr. Peter Scheiffele, University of Basel, Biozentrum, Tel. +41 61 207 21 94, Email: peter.scheiffele@unibas.ch

Heike Sacher, University of Basel, Biozentrum, Communications, Tel. +41 61 207 14 49, Email: heike.sacher@unibas.ch

Heike Sacher | Universität Basel

Further reports about: BRAIN DNA RNA RNA molecules RNAs genes neurons splicing

More articles from Life Sciences:

nachricht More genes are active in high-performance maize
19.01.2018 | Rheinische Friedrich-Wilhelms-Universität Bonn

nachricht How plants see light
19.01.2018 | Albert-Ludwigs-Universität Freiburg im Breisgau

All articles from Life Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

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

Im Focus: Artificial agent designs quantum experiments

On the way to an intelligent laboratory, physicists from Innsbruck and Vienna present an artificial agent that autonomously designs quantum experiments. In initial experiments, the system has independently (re)discovered experimental techniques that are nowadays standard in modern quantum optical laboratories. This shows how machines could play a more creative role in research in the future.

We carry smartphones in our pockets, the streets are dotted with semi-autonomous cars, but in the research laboratory experiments are still being designed by...

Im Focus: Scientists decipher key principle behind reaction of metalloenzymes

So-called pre-distorted states accelerate photochemical reactions too

What enables electrons to be transferred swiftly, for example during photosynthesis? An interdisciplinary team of researchers has worked out the details of how...

Im Focus: The first precise measurement of a single molecule's effective charge

For the first time, scientists have precisely measured the effective electrical charge of a single molecule in solution. This fundamental insight of an SNSF Professor could also pave the way for future medical diagnostics.

Electrical charge is one of the key properties that allows molecules to interact. Life itself depends on this phenomenon: many biological processes involve...

Im Focus: Paradigm shift in Paris: Encouraging an holistic view of laser machining

At the JEC World Composite Show in Paris in March 2018, the Fraunhofer Institute for Laser Technology ILT will be focusing on the latest trends and innovations in laser machining of composites. Among other things, researchers at the booth shared with the Aachen Center for Integrative Lightweight Production (AZL) will demonstrate how lasers can be used for joining, structuring, cutting and drilling composite materials.

No other industry has attracted as much public attention to composite materials as the automotive industry, which along with the aerospace industry is a driver...

Im Focus: Room-temperature multiferroic thin films and their properties

Scientists at Tokyo Institute of Technology (Tokyo Tech) and Tohoku University have developed high-quality GFO epitaxial films and systematically investigated their ferroelectric and ferromagnetic properties. They also demonstrated the room-temperature magnetocapacitance effects of these GFO thin films.

Multiferroic materials show magnetically driven ferroelectricity. They are attracting increasing attention because of their fascinating properties such as...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

10th International Symposium: “Advanced Battery Power – Kraftwerk Batterie” Münster, 10-11 April 2018

08.01.2018 | Event News

See, understand and experience the work of the future

11.12.2017 | Event News

Innovative strategies to tackle parasitic worms

08.12.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

Let the good tubes roll

19.01.2018 | Materials Sciences

How cancer metastasis happens: Researchers reveal a key mechanism

19.01.2018 | Health and Medicine

Meteoritic stardust unlocks timing of supernova dust formation

19.01.2018 | Physics and Astronomy

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>