Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Wired for sight

31.05.2010
The copy of the gene Ube3a inherited from the mother—not the father—is crucial to proper wiring of the visual cortex in mice after birth, a RIKEN researcher and his American co-worker have found1.

In human babies, a defective maternal Ube3a gene causes a developmental condition known as Angelman syndrome that leads to mental retardation, speech impairment and brain seizures, and affects behavior. The researchers therefore suggest that stimulating the silenced paternal gene at the right time of development might be worth exploring as therapy for this syndrome.

Nerve cell wiring of the visual cortex of the brain occurs after birth, and is then refined by experience. Typically, images are constructed using signals from nerve cells that receive more input from one eye than the other, an occurrence known as ocular dominance (OD). The balance of OD displays plasticity; it can be altered, for instance, by temporarily blinding one eye during the critical period of development when the interconnections of nerve cells in the brain are susceptible to experience.

Masaaki Sato from the RIKEN Brain Science Institute, Wako, and Michael Stryker from the University of California, San Francisco, confirmed in mice that by about four weeks of age—their critical period of development—the presence of the Ube3a protein is mainly restricted to the nucleus of nerve cells in the visual cortex of the brain; and it is dependent on the maternal gene.

The researchers then investigated how the interconnections of the nerve cells could be changed before, during and after the critical period. They tested these changes using optical imaging, a technique that can provide information on activity in the brain. They found that both maternal and paternal copies of the gene contributed to normal development until the critical period. From this stage on, however, the maternal copy alone was active and required for maturation of the cortical circuits. Without the maternal gene the visual system did not rapidly adjust OD to the experience of having one eye briefly blinded during the critical period. And afterwards, there was impairment of the ability to make the minor wiring adjustments as the system matured.

“We now want to investigate how Ube3a participates in the maturation process of cortical neuronal circuits,” Sato says. “The other direction [of our work] will be to screen genes or compounds which have potential to restore the impaired plasticity of Ube3a maternal-deficient mice.”

The corresponding author for this highlight is based at the Laboratory for Synaptic Function, RIKEN Brain Science Institute

Journal information

1. Sato, M. & Stryker, M.P. Genomic imprinting of experience-dependent cortical plasticity by the ubiquitin ligase gene Ube3a. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences USA 107, 5611–5616 (2010)

gro-pr | Research asia research news
Further information:
http://www.rikenresearch.riken.jp/eng/research/6283
http://www.researchsea.com

Further reports about: Angelman syndrome Brain RIKEN Science TV UBE3A nerve cell visual cortex

More articles from Life Sciences:

nachricht At last, butterflies get a bigger, better evolutionary tree
16.02.2018 | Florida Museum of Natural History

nachricht New treatment strategies for chronic kidney disease from the animal kingdom
16.02.2018 | Veterinärmedizinische Universität Wien

All articles from Life Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

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

Im Focus: Demonstration of a single molecule piezoelectric effect

Breakthrough provides a new concept of the design of molecular motors, sensors and electricity generators at nanoscale

Researchers from the Institute of Organic Chemistry and Biochemistry of the CAS (IOCB Prague), Institute of Physics of the CAS (IP CAS) and Palacký University...

Im Focus: Hybrid optics bring color imaging using ultrathin metalenses into focus

For photographers and scientists, lenses are lifesavers. They reflect and refract light, making possible the imaging systems that drive discovery through the microscope and preserve history through cameras.

But today's glass-based lenses are bulky and resist miniaturization. Next-generation technologies, such as ultrathin cameras or tiny microscopes, require...

Im Focus: Stem cell divisions in the adult brain seen for the first time

Scientists from the University of Zurich have succeeded for the first time in tracking individual stem cells and their neuronal progeny over months within the intact adult brain. This study sheds light on how new neurons are produced throughout life.

The generation of new nerve cells was once thought to taper off at the end of embryonic development. However, recent research has shown that the adult brain...

Im Focus: Interference as a new method for cooling quantum devices

Theoretical physicists propose to use negative interference to control heat flow in quantum devices. Study published in Physical Review Letters

Quantum computer parts are sensitive and need to be cooled to very low temperatures. Their tiny size makes them particularly susceptible to a temperature...

Im Focus: Autonomous 3D scanner supports individual manufacturing processes

Let’s say the armrest is broken in your vintage car. As things stand, you would need a lot of luck and persistence to find the right spare part. But in the world of Industrie 4.0 and production with batch sizes of one, you can simply scan the armrest and print it out. This is made possible by the first ever 3D scanner capable of working autonomously and in real time. The autonomous scanning system will be on display at the Hannover Messe Preview on February 6 and at the Hannover Messe proper from April 23 to 27, 2018 (Hall 6, Booth A30).

Part of the charm of vintage cars is that they stopped making them long ago, so it is special when you do see one out on the roads. If something breaks or...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

VideoLinks
Industry & Economy
Event News

2nd International Conference on High Temperature Shape Memory Alloys (HTSMAs)

15.02.2018 | Event News

Aachen DC Grid Summit 2018

13.02.2018 | Event News

How Global Climate Policy Can Learn from the Energy Transition

12.02.2018 | Event News

 
Latest News

Fingerprints of quantum entanglement

16.02.2018 | Information Technology

'Living bandages': NUST MISIS scientists develop biocompatible anti-burn nanofibers

16.02.2018 | Health and Medicine

Hubble sees Neptune's mysterious shrinking storm

16.02.2018 | Physics and Astronomy

VideoLinks
Science & Research
Overview of more VideoLinks >>>