Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Targeting genes with viruses to select populations of nerve cells

28.05.2004


Yale scientists have discovered a new way of illuminating MCH neurons, which may play an important role in regulating appetite and body weight, by using a virus that has been genetically engineered so that it cannot replicate.

MCH neurons are located in the hypothalamus, a homeostatic regulatory center of the brain. Because these nerve cells look like any other brain cell, it has been difficult to study their cellular behavior previously.

The researchers took the "safe" virus, known as an adeno-associated virus, and injected it into the brain as a gene shuttle vector, which then triggers the expression of a jellyfish gene that glows green in the MCH neurons.



The principal investigator, Anthony van den Pol, professor of neurosurgery at Yale School of Medicine, said tracking the virus in the brain makes it possible to observe what viruses do best -- go into target cells and initiate gene expression.

"By creating viruses unable to follow their normal replication agenda, we can then harness the virus as an important research tool," van den Pol said. "Viruses with altered genetic codes also have substantial value for the potential treatment of a number of neurological diseases where a gene could be selectively targeted to one defective cell type."

He said the gene could be one that codes for a protein that enhances neuron survival, that opens or closes an ion channel, conscripts the nerve cell to synthesize a new neurotransmitter, or generates a toxin selectively in a brain tumor.

Van den Pol and his colleagues first exchanged a viral gene promoter for a neurotransmitter-selective promoter in the virus so that although the virus may infect many cells, it only turns cells green if the cells make MCH. The scientists then used thin glass pipettes to record the electrophysiological characteristics of these rare nerve cells, finding them by their green glow.

Van den Pol said scientists have struggled to identify what particular cell type is being examined within the brain because the brain consists of hundreds of cell types within millions of cells. Transgenic mice can be generated that express a reporter gene in restricted subsets of neurons, allowing recognition of live cells, but the virus approach may be simpler, faster and less costly, he said.

"When these adeno-associated viruses are injected into the brain, they initiate expression of a novel gene that continues for over a year without doing any detectable damage to the brain," he said.


Co-authors included Prabhat Ghosh and Claudio Acuna of Yale and Reed Clark from Ohio State University.

Citation: Neuron, Vol. 42: 635-652 (May 27, 2004)

Jacqueline Weaver | EurekAlert!
Further information:
http://www.yale.edu/

More articles from Life Sciences:

nachricht World’s Largest Study on Allergic Rhinitis Reveals new Risk Genes
17.07.2018 | Helmholtz Zentrum München - Deutsches Forschungszentrum für Gesundheit und Umwelt

nachricht Plant mothers talk to their embryos via the hormone auxin
17.07.2018 | Institute of Science and Technology Austria

All articles from Life Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

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

Im Focus: First evidence on the source of extragalactic particles

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...

Im Focus: Magnetic vortices: Two independent magnetic skyrmion phases discovered in a single material

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...

Im Focus: Breaking the bond: To take part or not?

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...

Im Focus: New 2D Spectroscopy Methods

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....

Im Focus: Chemical reactions in the light of ultrashort X-ray pulses from free-electron lasers

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...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

VideoLinks
Industry & Economy
Event News

Leading experts in Diabetes, Metabolism and Biomedical Engineering discuss Precision Medicine

13.07.2018 | Event News

Conference on Laser Polishing – LaP: Fine Tuning for Surfaces

12.07.2018 | Event News

11th European Wood-based Panel Symposium 2018: Meeting point for the wood-based materials industry

03.07.2018 | Event News

 
Latest News

Microscopic trampoline may help create networks of quantum computers

17.07.2018 | Information Technology

In borophene, boundaries are no barrier

17.07.2018 | Materials Sciences

The role of Sodium for the Enhancement of Solar Cells

17.07.2018 | Power and Electrical Engineering

VideoLinks
Science & Research
Overview of more VideoLinks >>>