Researchers have uncovered a completely unexpected way that the brain repairs nerve damage, wherein cells known as astrocytes deliver a protective protein to nearby neurons.
Astrocytes are a type of support cell in the brain that serve many functions; one of their roles is to chew up damaged nerves during brain injury and then form scar tissue in the damaged area.
Roger Chung and colleagues have now found that astrocytes have another trick up their sleeve. During injury, astrocytes overproduce a protein called metallothionein (MT) and secrete it to surrounding nerves; MT is a scavenging protein that grabs free radicals and metal ions and prevents them from damaging a cell, and thus is a potent protecting agent.
While the ability of astrocytes to produce MT has been known for decades, the general view was that the MT stayed within astrocytes to protect them while they help repair damaged areas. However, Chung and colleagues demonstrated that MT was present in the external fluid of damaged rat brain. Furthermore, with the aid of a fluorescent MT protein, they observed that MT made in astrocytes could be transported outside the cell and then subsequently taken up by nearby nerves, and that the level of MT uptake correlated with how well the nerves repaired damage.
While the exact physiological role that MT plays in promoting better repair remains to be identified, this unexpected role for this protein should open up new avenues in treating brain injuries in the future.
Climate Impact Research in Hannover: Small Plants against Large Waves
17.08.2018 | Leibniz Universität Hannover
First transcription atlas of all wheat genes expands prospects for research and cultivation
17.08.2018 | Leibniz-Institut für Pflanzengenetik und Kulturpflanzenforschung
New design tool automatically creates nanostructure 3D-print templates for user-given colors
Scientists present work at prestigious SIGGRAPH conference
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Scientists at the University of California, Los Angeles present new research on a curious cosmic phenomenon known as "whistlers" -- very low frequency packets...
Scientists develop first tool to use machine learning methods to compute flow around interactively designable 3D objects. Tool will be presented at this year’s prestigious SIGGRAPH conference.
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Researchers from TU Graz and their industry partners have unveiled a world first: the prototype of a robot-controlled, high-speed combined charging system (CCS) for electric vehicles that enables series charging of cars in various parking positions.
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Proteins must be folded correctly to fulfill their molecular functions in cells. Molecular assistants called chaperones help proteins exploit their inbuilt folding potential and reach the correct three-dimensional structure. Researchers at the Max Planck Institute of Biochemistry (MPIB) have demonstrated that actin, the most abundant protein in higher developed cells, does not have the inbuilt potential to fold and instead requires special assistance to fold into its active state. The chaperone TRiC uses a previously undescribed mechanism to perform actin folding. The study was recently published in the journal Cell.
Actin is the most abundant protein in highly developed cells and has diverse functions in processes like cell stabilization, cell division and muscle...
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