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 Epigenetic Modification Increases Susceptibility to Obesity and Predicts Fatty Liver Later in Life
23.05.2016 | Deutsches Institut für Ernährungsforschung Potsdam-Rehbrücke

nachricht Lab cell study shows that HOXA5 protein acts as tumor suppressor in breast cancer
20.05.2016 | Johns Hopkins Medicine

All articles from Life Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

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

Im Focus: Researchers demonstrate size quantization of Dirac fermions in graphene

Characterization of high-quality material reveals important details relevant to next generation nanoelectronic devices

Quantum mechanics is the field of physics governing the behavior of things on atomic scales, where things work very differently from our everyday world.

Im Focus: Graphene: A quantum of current

When current comes in discrete packages: Viennese scientists unravel the quantum properties of the carbon material graphene

In 2010 the Nobel Prize in physics was awarded for the discovery of the exceptional material graphene, which consists of a single layer of carbon atoms...

Im Focus: Transparent - Flexible - Printable: Key technologies for tomorrow’s displays

The trend-forward world of display technology relies on innovative materials and novel approaches to steadily advance the visual experience, for example through higher pixel densities, better contrast, larger formats or user-friendler design. Fraunhofer ISC’s newly developed materials for optics and electronics now broaden the application potential of next generation displays. Learn about lower cost-effective wet-chemical printing procedures and the new materials at the Fraunhofer ISC booth # 1021 in North Hall D during the SID International Symposium on Information Display held from 22 to 27 May 2016 at San Francisco’s Moscone Center.

Economical processing

Im Focus: Trojan horses for hospital bugs

Staphylococcus aureus usually is a formidable bacterial pathogen. Sometimes, however, weakened forms are found in the blood of patients. Researchers of the University of Würzburg have now identified one mutation responsible for that phenomenon.

Staphylococcus aureus is a bacterium that is frequently found on the human skin and in the nose where it usually behaves inconspicuously. However, once inside...

Im Focus: Laser pulses: conductors for protons

Using ultrashort laser pulses an international team at the Max Planck Institute of Quantum Optics and the Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität Munich has managed to manipulate the positions of atoms in hydrocarbon molecules.

Light can conduct the play of atoms and molecules in the microcosm. Humans manage to interfere with this play. Researchers from the Laboratory of Attosecond...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

Challenges of rural labor markets

20.05.2016 | Event News

International expert meeting “Health Business Connect” in France

19.05.2016 | Event News

Permafrost Conference in Potsdam, Germany

17.05.2016 | Event News

 
Latest News

Autonomous driving: emergence of new billion euro market

23.05.2016 | Information Technology

NEST: building of the future is up and running

23.05.2016 | Architecture and Construction

Researchers find that Earth may be home to 1 trillion species

23.05.2016 | Earth Sciences

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>