How do we process thoughts and store memories? A team of researchers headed by Dr. Nahum Sonenberg of McGill's Department of Biochemistry and Goodman Cancer Centre has discovered that brains in mammals modify a particular protein in a unique way, which alters the protein's normal function. This discovery represents an important step in understanding how our brains work.
When our memories are being formed, nerve cells, or neurons, communicate with each other through electrical impulses at specialized connections. To strengthen these connections, the neurons require new proteins – key molecules needed for all forms of cellular activity. The protein in question, 4E-BP2, controls the process of producing new proteins in the nervous system.
This process, known as protein synthesis or translation, is the major focus of research in Sonenberg's laboratory. Before the team's discovery, no one knew 4E-BP2 could be chemically altered in such a manner as the team described in its work, much less that this could have an effect on neuron function.
According to the lead researcher Dr. Michael Bidinosti, a recent graduate from Sonenberg's laboratory, "we found a modification to a protein that controls the cellular protein-synthesis machinery. This modification seems to affect the ability of nerve cells to communicate with each other and is thought to be part of the processes underlying memory."
He explains that study of protein synthesis and of memory are increasingly converging fields, and that the team's research is an important achievement in this arena. Collaboration was critical to the discovery as the team includes researchers from the Université de Montréal, the Montreal Neurological Institute, the University of Toronto, Baylor College of Medicine in Houston, and the University of Bergen in Norway.
"Better understanding of protein synthesis in the brain is crucial to the advancement of neuroscience, particularly as researchers discover that altered proteins may have a direct impact on the memory process," says Dr. Anthony Phillips, Scientific Director of the Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR) Institute of Neurosciences, Mental Health and Addiction. "CIHR hopes that these new findings will lead to more research aimed at ultimately solving memory loss issues."
The research was published in the journal Molecular Cell on March 25, 2010, and was funded by the Canadian Institutes of Health Research and the Howard Hughes Medical Institute. Bidinosti was supported by a Postgraduate Doctoral Scholarship from the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada (NSERC).
International team discovers novel Alzheimer's disease risk gene among Icelanders
24.10.2016 | Baylor College of Medicine
New bacteria groups, and stunning diversity, discovered underground
24.10.2016 | DOE/Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory
Researchers from the Institute for Quantum Computing (IQC) at the University of Waterloo led the development of a new extensible wiring technique capable of controlling superconducting quantum bits, representing a significant step towards to the realization of a scalable quantum computer.
"The quantum socket is a wiring method that uses three-dimensional wires based on spring-loaded pins to address individual qubits," said Jeremy Béjanin, a PhD...
In a paper in Scientific Reports, a research team at Worcester Polytechnic Institute describes a novel light-activated phenomenon that could become the basis for applications as diverse as microscopic robotic grippers and more efficient solar cells.
A research team at Worcester Polytechnic Institute (WPI) has developed a revolutionary, light-activated semiconductor nanocomposite material that can be used...
By forcefully embedding two silicon atoms in a diamond matrix, Sandia researchers have demonstrated for the first time on a single chip all the components needed to create a quantum bridge to link quantum computers together.
"People have already built small quantum computers," says Sandia researcher Ryan Camacho. "Maybe the first useful one won't be a single giant quantum computer...
COMPAMED has become the leading international marketplace for suppliers of medical manufacturing. The trade fair, which takes place every November and is co-located to MEDICA in Dusseldorf, has been steadily growing over the past years and shows that medical technology remains a rapidly growing market.
In 2016, the joint pavilion by the IVAM Microtechnology Network, the Product Market “High-tech for Medical Devices”, will be located in Hall 8a again and will...
'Ferroelectric' materials can switch between different states of electrical polarization in response to an external electric field. This flexibility means they show promise for many applications, for example in electronic devices and computer memory. Current ferroelectric materials are highly valued for their thermal and chemical stability and rapid electro-mechanical responses, but creating a material that is scalable down to the tiny sizes needed for technologies like silicon-based semiconductors (Si-based CMOS) has proven challenging.
Now, Hiroshi Funakubo and co-workers at the Tokyo Institute of Technology, in collaboration with researchers across Japan, have conducted experiments to...
14.10.2016 | Event News
14.10.2016 | Event News
12.10.2016 | Event News
24.10.2016 | Power and Electrical Engineering
24.10.2016 | Life Sciences
24.10.2016 | Life Sciences