Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Switching off anxiety with light

07.04.2014
  • RUB scientists couple cone opsins with serotonin receptors
  • Light-activated receptors for the analysis of intracellular signalling pathways

Receptors for the messenger molecule serotonin can be modified in such a way that they can be activated by light. Together with colleagues, neuroscientists from the Ruhr-Universität Bochum (RUB) report on this finding in the journal “Neuron”.

An imbalance in serotonin levels seems to cause anxiety and depression. The researchers have provided a new model system for investigating the mechanism underlying these dysfunctions in cell cultures as well as living organisms.

G protein coupled receptors play an important role in medicine and health


Nerve cells containing the light-activated 5-HT1A receptor (green) and the naturally occuring 5-HT1A receptor (red)

© RUB, Bild: Masseck

One receptor, which is important for the regulation of serotonin levels in the brain, is the 5-HT1A receptor. It belongs to a protein family called G protein coupled receptors (GPCRs). These receptors can activate different signalling pathways in cells to support or suppress various signalling events.

“About 30 per cent of the current drugs target specifically GPCRs”, says Prof Dr Stefan Herlitze from the Department of General Zoology and Neurobiology at the RUB. Due to the lack of tools to control intracellular signalling pathways with high temporal and spatial accuracy, it was so far difficult to analyse these pathways precisely.

Coupling of visual pigments to serotonin receptors

Applying optogenetic methods the scientists in Bochum used cone opsins from the mouse and human eye to control specifically serotonin signalling pathways either with blue or red light. Prof Dr Stefan Herlitze has been working with optogenetic techniques since 2005 and is one of the pioneers in the field. The light-activated serotonin receptors can be switched on within milliseconds, are extremely light sensitive in comparison to other optogenetic tools and can be repetitively activated. “We hope that with the help of these optogenetic tools, we will be able to gain a better understanding about how anxiety and depression originate”, states RUB neuroscientist Dr Olivia Masseck.

Successful behavioural tests

The scientists also demonstrated that they were able to modulate mouse emotional behaviour using the light-activated receptors. When they switched on the serotonergic signals by light in a certain brain area, the mice became less anxious.

Bibliographic record

O.A. Masseck, K. Spoida, D. Dalkara, T. Maejima, J.M. Rubelwoski, L. Wallhorn, E.S. Deneris, S. Herlitze (2014): Vertebrate cone opsins enable sustained and highly sensitive rapid control of Gi/o signaling in anxiety circuitry. Neuron, DOI: 10.1016/j.neuron.2014.01.041

Editorial journalist

Dr. Julia Weiler
Press Office Ruhr University Bochum

Dr. Olivia Masseck | EurekAlert!
Further information:
http://aktuell.ruhr-uni-bochum.de/pm2014/pm00046.html.en

Further reports about: Coupling GPCRs Neuron Switching anxiety neuroscientist pathways receptor sensitive signalling

More articles from Life Sciences:

nachricht A Map of the Cell’s Power Station
18.08.2017 | Albert-Ludwigs-Universität Freiburg im Breisgau

nachricht On the way to developing a new active ingredient against chronic infections
18.08.2017 | Deutsches Zentrum für Infektionsforschung

All articles from Life Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

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

Im Focus: Fizzy soda water could be key to clean manufacture of flat wonder material: Graphene

Whether you call it effervescent, fizzy, or sparkling, carbonated water is making a comeback as a beverage. Aside from quenching thirst, researchers at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign have discovered a new use for these "bubbly" concoctions that will have major impact on the manufacturer of the world's thinnest, flattest, and one most useful materials -- graphene.

As graphene's popularity grows as an advanced "wonder" material, the speed and quality at which it can be manufactured will be paramount. With that in mind,...

Im Focus: Exotic quantum states made from light: Physicists create optical “wells” for a super-photon

Physicists at the University of Bonn have managed to create optical hollows and more complex patterns into which the light of a Bose-Einstein condensate flows. The creation of such highly low-loss structures for light is a prerequisite for complex light circuits, such as for quantum information processing for a new generation of computers. The researchers are now presenting their results in the journal Nature Photonics.

Light particles (photons) occur as tiny, indivisible portions. Many thousands of these light portions can be merged to form a single super-photon if they are...

Im Focus: Circular RNA linked to brain function

For the first time, scientists have shown that circular RNA is linked to brain function. When a RNA molecule called Cdr1as was deleted from the genome of mice, the animals had problems filtering out unnecessary information – like patients suffering from neuropsychiatric disorders.

While hundreds of circular RNAs (circRNAs) are abundant in mammalian brains, one big question has remained unanswered: What are they actually good for? In the...

Im Focus: RAVAN CubeSat measures Earth's outgoing energy

An experimental small satellite has successfully collected and delivered data on a key measurement for predicting changes in Earth's climate.

The Radiometer Assessment using Vertically Aligned Nanotubes (RAVAN) CubeSat was launched into low-Earth orbit on Nov. 11, 2016, in order to test new...

Im Focus: Scientists shine new light on the “other high temperature superconductor”

A study led by scientists of the Max Planck Institute for the Structure and Dynamics of Matter (MPSD) at the Center for Free-Electron Laser Science in Hamburg presents evidence of the coexistence of superconductivity and “charge-density-waves” in compounds of the poorly-studied family of bismuthates. This observation opens up new perspectives for a deeper understanding of the phenomenon of high-temperature superconductivity, a topic which is at the core of condensed matter research since more than 30 years. The paper by Nicoletti et al has been published in the PNAS.

Since the beginning of the 20th century, superconductivity had been observed in some metals at temperatures only a few degrees above the absolute zero (minus...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

Call for Papers – ICNFT 2018, 5th International Conference on New Forming Technology

16.08.2017 | Event News

Sustainability is the business model of tomorrow

04.08.2017 | Event News

Clash of Realities 2017: Registration now open. International Conference at TH Köln

26.07.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

A Map of the Cell’s Power Station

18.08.2017 | Life Sciences

Engineering team images tiny quasicrystals as they form

18.08.2017 | Physics and Astronomy

Researchers printed graphene-like materials with inkjet

18.08.2017 | Materials Sciences

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>