Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Lack of specific brain protein causes marked deficits in learning, memory

08.04.2004


A protein involved in the release of neurotransmitters in the brain is essential to learning and memory in mice, researchers at UT Southwestern Medical Center at Dallas have found.



A study published today in Neuron offers the first evidence that lack of this protein – known as RIM1 alpha – causes profound deficits in the learning process. The discovery is a major step in understanding the molecular events that underlie learning and memory – complex processes that can be impaired in human neuropsychiatric disorders such as Alzheimer’s disease, mental retardation and schizophrenia.

"We found that when you delete this molecule, the mice essentially become incredibly stupid," said Dr. Thomas Südhof, director of both the Center for Basic Neuroscience and the C. Vincent Prothro Center for Research in Basic Neuroscience at UT Southwestern and co-author of the paper.


Researchers hope that further study of the protein’s role in learning and memory will lead to potential treatments for some neuropsychiatric disorders.

"This is the first indication that these proteins could be good targets for treatment of specific brain disorders," said Dr. Craig Powell, assistant professor of psychiatry and neurology at UT Southwestern and the study’s lead author.

The researchers compared behaviors of normal mice to those of three sets of genetically altered mice – each of which was missing a specific protein involved in releasing neurotransmitters. The mice lacking the RIM1 alpha protein, unlike the others, lacked the ability to learn the location of an escape platform in a pool of water despite repeated attempts over several days.

Dr. Eric Nestler, chairman of psychiatry at UT Southwestern and senior author of the study, said another notable finding was that, while the other two sets of genetically altered mice displayed some of the same cellular abnormalities as the RIM1 alpha mice, these other mice exhibited no behavioral deficits.

"The brain was able to compensate for the loss of these other two proteins, but it was not able to compensate for the lack of RIM1 alpha," Dr. Nestler said. "That tells us that RIM1 alpha is involved in so many important functions that, when it is missing, gross changes in behavior occur."

Proteins involved in the release of neurotransmitters are known as presynaptic proteins. In the past, postsynaptic proteins, as opposed to presynaptic proteins, were shown to play an active role in learning and memory. Postsynaptic proteins receive the neurotransmitters released by presynaptic proteins.

Dr. Nestler said that some of the abnormalities in learning in the mice lacking RIM1 alpha are reminiscent of symptoms commonly seen in people with schizophrenia.

"This could give us new insight into what’s going wrong in the brains of people with schizophrenia – a disorder that is still not at all well understood," Dr. Nestler said.


These studies were funded via grants from the National Institute of Mental Health, The National Alliance for Research on Schizophrenia and Depression, and the Howard Hughes Medical Institute.

Rachel Horton | EurekAlert!
Further information:
http://www.swmed.edu/

More articles from Life Sciences:

nachricht Climate Impact Research in Hannover: Small Plants against Large Waves
17.08.2018 | Leibniz Universität Hannover

nachricht First transcription atlas of all wheat genes expands prospects for research and cultivation
17.08.2018 | Leibniz-Institut für Pflanzengenetik und Kulturpflanzenforschung

All articles from Life Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

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

Im Focus: Color effects from transparent 3D-printed nanostructures

New design tool automatically creates nanostructure 3D-print templates for user-given colors
Scientists present work at prestigious SIGGRAPH conference

Most of the objects we see are colored by pigments, but using pigments has disadvantages: such colors can fade, industrial pigments are often toxic, and...

Im Focus: Unraveling the nature of 'whistlers' from space in the lab

A new study sheds light on how ultralow frequency radio waves and plasmas interact

Scientists at the University of California, Los Angeles present new research on a curious cosmic phenomenon known as "whistlers" -- very low frequency packets...

Im Focus: New interactive machine learning tool makes car designs more aerodynamic

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.

When engineers or designers want to test the aerodynamic properties of the newly designed shape of a car, airplane, or other object, they would normally model...

Im Focus: Robots as 'pump attendants': TU Graz develops robot-controlled rapid charging system for e-vehicles

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.

Global demand for electric vehicles is forecast to rise sharply: by 2025, the number of new vehicle registrations is expected to reach 25 million per year....

Im Focus: The “TRiC” to folding actin

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...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

VideoLinks
Industry & Economy
Event News

LaserForum 2018 deals with 3D production of components

17.08.2018 | Event News

Within reach of the Universe

08.08.2018 | Event News

A journey through the history of microscopy – new exhibition opens at the MDC

27.07.2018 | Event News

 
Latest News

Smallest transistor worldwide switches current with a single atom in solid electrolyte

17.08.2018 | Physics and Astronomy

Robots as Tools and Partners in Rehabilitation

17.08.2018 | Information Technology

Climate Impact Research in Hannover: Small Plants against Large Waves

17.08.2018 | Life Sciences

VideoLinks
Science & Research
Overview of more VideoLinks >>>