Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

MBL Researchers Find Zinc’s Crucial Pathway to the Brain

27.06.2013
A new study helps explain how parts of the brain maintain their delicate balance of zinc, an element required in minute but crucial doses, particularly during embryonic development.
The study, led at the Marine Biological Laboratory (MBL) by Mark Messerli in collaboration with scientists from the University of California, Davis, shows that neural cells require zinc uptake through a membrane transporter referred to as ZIP12. If that route is closed, neuronal sprouting and growth are significantly impaired and is fatal for a developing embryo. Their discovery was published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

“This particular transporter is an essential doorway for many neurons in the central nervous system,” explains Messerli. “You knock out this one gene, this one particular pathway for the uptake of zinc into these cells, and you essentially prevent neuronal outgrowth. That’s lethal to the embryo.”

Previously, scientists thought that zinc could use more than one pathway to enter the cell during early brain development. Some other elements, like calcium, enjoy such luxury of multiple options.

Knocking out ZIP12, affected several critical processes in the brain, the scientists found. For example, frog embryos were unable to develop their neural systems properly. Additionally, neurons had trouble reaching out to connect to other neurons; their extensions were both shorter and fewer in number than normal.

“We were surprised that ZIP12 was required at such an early and critical stage of development,” said Winyoo Chowanadisai, a researcher in nutrition at the University of California at Davis and visiting scientist in the Cellular Dynamics Program at the MBL. Dr. Chowanadisai was the first on the team to realize that ZIP12 is expressed in such abundance in the brain.“This study also reinforces the importance of periconceptional and prenatal nutrition and counseling to promote health during the earliest stages of life.”

ZIP12 is part of a larger family of transporters involved in the movement of metal ions from outside the cell. Other reports showed that simultaneously blocking 3 other transporters in the family – including ZIP1, 2, and 3 – had no major effects on embryonic development.

Zinc is needed for healthy neural development, helping the brain to learn and remember new information. However, too much zinc can also be problematic.

The research team is investigating the implications of their results on processes like embryonic brain development and wound healing.

“[The result] was not expected,” said Messerli, a physiologist in the MBL’s Bell Center for Regenerative Biology and Tissue Enginering and Cellular Dynamics Program. ““We found that zinc uptake through ZIP12 is a regulatory point for neuronal growth, required for development and possibly required for learning and memory throughout life. We want to elucidate the downstream targets that zinc is affecting. That’s the next exploration.”

– Written by Aviva Hope Rutkin

Citation
Chowanadisai W, Graham DM, Keen CL, Rucker RB and Messerli MA (2013) Neurulation and neurite extension require the zinc transporter ZIP12 (slc39a12). PNAS 110: 9903-9908.

The Marine Biological Laboratory (MBL) is dedicated to scientific discovery and improving the human condition through research and education in biology, biomedicine, and environmental science. Founded in 1888 in Woods Hole, Massachusetts, the MBL is an independent, nonprofit corporation.

Diana Kenney | EurekAlert!
Further information:
http://www.mbl.edu

More articles from Health and Medicine:

nachricht A promising target for kidney fibrosis
21.04.2017 | Brigham and Women's Hospital

nachricht Stem cell transplants: activating signal paths may protect from graft-versus-host disease
20.04.2017 | Technische Universität München

All articles from Health and Medicine >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

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

Im Focus: Making lightweight construction suitable for series production

More and more automobile companies are focusing on body parts made of carbon fiber reinforced plastics (CFRP). However, manufacturing and repair costs must be further reduced in order to make CFRP more economical in use. Together with the Volkswagen AG and five other partners in the project HolQueSt 3D, the Laser Zentrum Hannover e.V. (LZH) has developed laser processes for the automatic trimming, drilling and repair of three-dimensional components.

Automated manufacturing processes are the basis for ultimately establishing the series production of CFRP components. In the project HolQueSt 3D, the LZH has...

Im Focus: Wonder material? Novel nanotube structure strengthens thin films for flexible electronics

Reflecting the structure of composites found in nature and the ancient world, researchers at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign have synthesized thin carbon nanotube (CNT) textiles that exhibit both high electrical conductivity and a level of toughness that is about fifty times higher than copper films, currently used in electronics.

"The structural robustness of thin metal films has significant importance for the reliable operation of smart skin and flexible electronics including...

Im Focus: Deep inside Galaxy M87

The nearby, giant radio galaxy M87 hosts a supermassive black hole (BH) and is well-known for its bright jet dominating the spectrum over ten orders of magnitude in frequency. Due to its proximity, jet prominence, and the large black hole mass, M87 is the best laboratory for investigating the formation, acceleration, and collimation of relativistic jets. A research team led by Silke Britzen from the Max Planck Institute for Radio Astronomy in Bonn, Germany, has found strong indication for turbulent processes connecting the accretion disk and the jet of that galaxy providing insights into the longstanding problem of the origin of astrophysical jets.

Supermassive black holes form some of the most enigmatic phenomena in astrophysics. Their enormous energy output is supposed to be generated by the...

Im Focus: A Quantum Low Pass for Photons

Physicists in Garching observe novel quantum effect that limits the number of emitted photons.

The probability to find a certain number of photons inside a laser pulse usually corresponds to a classical distribution of independent events, the so-called...

Im Focus: Microprocessors based on a layer of just three atoms

Microprocessors based on atomically thin materials hold the promise of the evolution of traditional processors as well as new applications in the field of flexible electronics. Now, a TU Wien research team led by Thomas Müller has made a breakthrough in this field as part of an ongoing research project.

Two-dimensional materials, or 2D materials for short, are extremely versatile, although – or often more precisely because – they are made up of just one or a...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

Expert meeting “Health Business Connect” will connect international medical technology companies

20.04.2017 | Event News

Wenn der Computer das Gehirn austrickst

18.04.2017 | Event News

7th International Conference on Crystalline Silicon Photovoltaics in Freiburg on April 3-5, 2017

03.04.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

NASA's Fermi catches gamma-ray flashes from tropical storms

25.04.2017 | Physics and Astronomy

Researchers invent process to make sustainable rubber, plastics

25.04.2017 | Materials Sciences

Transfecting cells gently – the LZH presents a GNOME prototype at the Labvolution 2017

25.04.2017 | Life Sciences

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>