They demonstrated the importance of a specific protein for signal transmission between nerve cells. This is of high significance as certain people with autism – a functional development disturbances of the brain – suffer from genetic defects in this protein. Therefore the findings could improve the possibility of treating this disease more effectively. The results are presented in the latest issue of the professional journal Science.
When our brain is at work, for example when we are looking at a picture or planning a movement, its nerve cells communicate with each other. For this purpose they are equipped with specific points of contact, so called synapses. Both sides of a synapse are specialised and have a complex setup which makes sure that the transmission of information from an individual synapse is only ever possible in one direction. The sender – the presynaptic side – is filled with a neurotransmitter that is released in the direction of the recipient – the postsynaptic side – upon an electric command.
Although this may sound simple, it is a highly complicated biochemical process that takes place in less than a millisecond and is strictly controlled in terms of space and time. A great number of specialised proteins are required to cooperate and enable an optimal release of the neurotransmitter. The “RIM binding protein” (RBP) plays an important part in this respect. As demonstrated by the scientists of the NeuroCure Cluster of Excellence surrounding Stephan Sigrist (Freie Universität Berlin) and Dietmar Schmitz (Charité – Universitätsmedizin Berlin and Deutsches Zentrum für Neurodegenerative Erkrankungen), the RBP-protein is of great significance for releasing the neurotransmitter.
The neuroscientists used the fruit fly as a model organism. Thanks to the simple setup of its brain and synapses it is ideal for experimental examinations. At the same time, the fly’s synaptic proteins are very similar to those of humans due to common descent dating back hundreds of million years ago. Through functional experiments and a new method of high-resolution microscopy, the scientists gained insights into previously unknown areas where the transmission takes place. The neuroscientists found out that the RBP-protein holds a key position in the fruit fly’s presynapsis. It is necessary for effectively connecting the release of the neurotransmitter to the electric command, which enables the sensible communication between nerve cells.
There are more and more indications that genetic defects in the RBP-proteins are an important aspect of autism in humans. The initial functional description of the fruit fly’s RBP-protein therefore does not only extend our comprehension of neuronal communication, it also provides a reference point to help understand brain malfunctions that occur with autism. For this reason the neuroscientists are hoping to contribute to the fundamental principles of a more effective treatment.
NeuroCure is a Cluster of Excellence in the framework of the Excellence Initiative funded by the German federal and state governments since 2007. The interdisciplinary research alliance crosslinks fundamental neuroscientific research and clinical application to transfer scientific findings on the functioning of the nervous system and neurological diseases to effective therapies.
World’s Largest Study on Allergic Rhinitis Reveals new Risk Genes
17.07.2018 | Helmholtz Zentrum München - Deutsches Forschungszentrum für Gesundheit und Umwelt
Plant mothers talk to their embryos via the hormone auxin
17.07.2018 | Institute of Science and Technology Austria
For the first time ever, scientists have determined the cosmic origin of highest-energy neutrinos. A research group led by IceCube scientist Elisa Resconi, spokesperson of the Collaborative Research Center SFB1258 at the Technical University of Munich (TUM), provides an important piece of evidence that the particles detected by the IceCube neutrino telescope at the South Pole originate from a galaxy four billion light-years away from Earth.
To rule out other origins with certainty, the team led by neutrino physicist Elisa Resconi from the Technical University of Munich and multi-wavelength...
For the first time a team of researchers have discovered two different phases of magnetic skyrmions in a single material. Physicists of the Technical Universities of Munich and Dresden and the University of Cologne can now better study and understand the properties of these magnetic structures, which are important for both basic research and applications.
Whirlpools are an everyday experience in a bath tub: When the water is drained a circular vortex is formed. Typically, such whirls are rather stable. Similar...
Physicists working with Roland Wester at the University of Innsbruck have investigated if and how chemical reactions can be influenced by targeted vibrational excitation of the reactants. They were able to demonstrate that excitation with a laser beam does not affect the efficiency of a chemical exchange reaction and that the excited molecular group acts only as a spectator in the reaction.
A frequently used reaction in organic chemistry is nucleophilic substitution. It plays, for example, an important role in in the synthesis of new chemical...
Optical spectroscopy allows investigating the energy structure and dynamic properties of complex quantum systems. Researchers from the University of Würzburg present two new approaches of coherent two-dimensional spectroscopy.
"Put an excitation into the system and observe how it evolves." According to physicist Professor Tobias Brixner, this is the credo of optical spectroscopy....
Ultra-short, high-intensity X-ray flashes open the door to the foundations of chemical reactions. Free-electron lasers generate these kinds of pulses, but there is a catch: the pulses vary in duration and energy. An international research team has now presented a solution: Using a ring of 16 detectors and a circularly polarized laser beam, they can determine both factors with attosecond accuracy.
Free-electron lasers (FELs) generate extremely short and intense X-ray flashes. Researchers can use these flashes to resolve structures with diameters on the...
13.07.2018 | Event News
12.07.2018 | Event News
03.07.2018 | Event News
17.07.2018 | Information Technology
17.07.2018 | Materials Sciences
17.07.2018 | Power and Electrical Engineering