Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Rutgers scientists discover protein in brain affects learning and memory

19.01.2004


Rutgers researchers have discovered what could be the newest target for drugs in the treatment of memory and learning disabilities as well as diseases such as Alzheimer’s and fetal alcohol syndrome: a protein known as cypin.



Cypin is found throughout the body, but in the brain it regulates nerve cell or neuron branching. Branching or dendrite growth is an important process in normal brain function and is thought to increase when a person learns. A reduction in branching is associated with certain neurological diseases.

"The identification of cypin and understanding how it works in the brain is particularly exciting since it opens up new avenues for the treatment of serious neurological disorders," said principal investigator Bonnie Firestein, assistant professor of cell biology and neuroscience at Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey. "This paves the way to designing new drugs that could target this protein molecule."


Proteins or the genes that code for them have become the targets of choice for developing precisely focused, effective new drug therapies – one of the outcomes of the many revelations provided by the Human Genome Project.

Firestein first identified and isolated cypin in 1999 during her postdoctoral research. She is currently focusing on how it works in the hippocampus, a structure in the brain associated with the regulation of emotions and memory.

"We knew that cypin existed elsewhere in the body where it performs other functions, but no one knew why it was present in the brain," Firestein. Her new research determined that cypin in the brain works as an enzyme involved in shaping neurons.

"One end of a neuron looks like a tree and, in the hippocampus, cypin controls the growth of its branches," she explained. "An increase in the number of branches provides additional sites where a neuron can receive information that it can pass along, enhancing communication."

Maxine Chen, a graduate student in Firestein’s laboratory, helped substantiate the connection between cypin and dendrite growth. When she looked closely at neurons in the lab, she found cypin only in certain neurons – "neurons that tended to be more fuzzy," as she described those with increased dendrites. Stimulating neurons in a dish also produced an increase in the protein overall. This has been shown to increase dendrite growth.

Fellow graduate student Barbara Akum further verified the connection between the protein and branching. She used a new molecular technique developed by Samuel Gunderson, a Rutgers assistant professor of molecular biology and biochemistry. With this new tool, Akum reduced the expression of cypin and observed a consequent decrease in branching.

"We also found something else that is really exciting," said Firestein, referring to the molecular mechanics by which cypin affects dendrite growth. Cypin appears to act as a glue that cements other molecules together into long chain structures that extend through the branches of a dendrite as a skeleton.

"Cypin works on tubulin, a protein that is a structural building block of the dendrite skeleton," explained Firestein. "If you just take our purified protein and mix it with tubulin in a test tube, the cypin on its own will actually cause these skeletal structures to grow."

A paper presenting this research will appear in Nature Neuroscience online beginning (Sunday) Jan. 19.

Joseph Blumberg | EurekAlert!
Further information:
http://www.rutgers.edu/

More articles from Health and Medicine:

nachricht Penn vet research identifies new target for taming Ebola
12.01.2017 | University of Pennsylvania

nachricht The strange double life of Dab2
10.01.2017 | University of Miami Miller School of Medicine

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: Interfacial Superconductivity: Magnetic and superconducting order revealed simultaneously

Researchers from the University of Hamburg in Germany, in collaboration with colleagues from the University of Aarhus in Denmark, have synthesized a new superconducting material by growing a few layers of an antiferromagnetic transition-metal chalcogenide on a bismuth-based topological insulator, both being non-superconducting materials.

While superconductivity and magnetism are generally believed to be mutually exclusive, surprisingly, in this new material, superconducting correlations...

Im Focus: Studying fundamental particles in materials

Laser-driving of semimetals allows creating novel quasiparticle states within condensed matter systems and switching between different states on ultrafast time scales

Studying properties of fundamental particles in condensed matter systems is a promising approach to quantum field theory. Quasiparticles offer the opportunity...

Im Focus: Designing Architecture with Solar Building Envelopes

Among the general public, solar thermal energy is currently associated with dark blue, rectangular collectors on building roofs. Technologies are needed for aesthetically high quality architecture which offer the architect more room for manoeuvre when it comes to low- and plus-energy buildings. With the “ArKol” project, researchers at Fraunhofer ISE together with partners are currently developing two façade collectors for solar thermal energy generation, which permit a high degree of design flexibility: a strip collector for opaque façade sections and a solar thermal blind for transparent sections. The current state of the two developments will be presented at the BAU 2017 trade fair.

As part of the “ArKol – development of architecturally highly integrated façade collectors with heat pipes” project, Fraunhofer ISE together with its partners...

Im Focus: How to inflate a hardened concrete shell with a weight of 80 t

At TU Wien, an alternative for resource intensive formwork for the construction of concrete domes was developed. It is now used in a test dome for the Austrian Federal Railways Infrastructure (ÖBB Infrastruktur).

Concrete shells are efficient structures, but not very resource efficient. The formwork for the construction of concrete domes alone requires a high amount of...

Im Focus: Bacterial Pac Man molecule snaps at sugar

Many pathogens use certain sugar compounds from their host to help conceal themselves against the immune system. Scientists at the University of Bonn have now, in cooperation with researchers at the University of York in the United Kingdom, analyzed the dynamics of a bacterial molecule that is involved in this process. They demonstrate that the protein grabs onto the sugar molecule with a Pac Man-like chewing motion and holds it until it can be used. Their results could help design therapeutics that could make the protein poorer at grabbing and holding and hence compromise the pathogen in the host. The study has now been published in “Biophysical Journal”.

The cells of the mouth, nose and intestinal mucosa produce large quantities of a chemical called sialic acid. Many bacteria possess a special transport system...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

12V, 48V, high-voltage – trends in E/E automotive architecture

10.01.2017 | Event News

2nd Conference on Non-Textual Information on 10 and 11 May 2017 in Hannover

09.01.2017 | Event News

Nothing will happen without batteries making it happen!

05.01.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

Water - as the underlying driver of the Earth’s carbon cycle

17.01.2017 | Earth Sciences

Interfacial Superconductivity: Magnetic and superconducting order revealed simultaneously

17.01.2017 | Materials Sciences

Smart homes will “LISTEN” to your voice

17.01.2017 | Architecture and Construction

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>