At a basic level, our nervous system is like a collection of wires that transmit electrical signals encoding our thoughts, feelings, and actions, both conscious and unconscious. The connections in our brain are formed by neurons that extend to each other and to muscles long wires called axons. Just as an electrical wire needs insulation, our axons require an insulating sheath (myelin) that helps to propagate the electrical signal and maximize the efficiency and velocity of these signals in our brain and body.
It is this property (myelination) that facilitates the long-distance communication in our nervous system across junctions called synapses, such that a thought can result in the movement of a finger or a toe. Diseases and injury that compromise the integrity of myelin such as multiple sclerosis, or peripheral neuropathies, have dramatic consequences like paralysis, uncoordinated movements, and neuropathic pain. The discovery reported in this study sheds light on the mechanisms that control how myelin is formed during development of the nerves. The article, which will be published in the November 3rd issue of Science, constitutes an important step forward in our understanding of the process of myelination, and opens the way to new research in this field.
More specifically, the study showed that a protein called Par-3 is at the base of the myelination process. This protein becomes localized to one side of the myelin-forming cells called Schwann cell, upon contact with the axon that is to be myelinated. Par-3 acts as a sort of molecular scaffold to set-up an "organizing centre", which brings together key proteins essential for myelination, in particular a receptor for a molecule secreted by the neurons. The scientists found that when they disrupted this organizing centre, cells could not form myelin normally. Importantly, their discovery demonstrates that Schwann cells need to become polarized so that they know which side of the cell is in contact with the axon so that they can initiate wrapping and bring essential molecules to this critical interface. These studies open the way to new research, which should help to identify other components that are recruited at the organizing centre set-up by Par-3. Importantly, in conditions such as multiple sclerosis or after injury, it is believed that Schwann cells could be used to re-myelinate axons. But so far this approach has proved to be relatively inefficient. Therefore, these experiments bring about the possibility that manipulating the Par-3 pathway in Schwann cells might allow for more efficient re-myelination of damaged or diseased nerves.
Scientists uncover the role of a protein in production & survival of myelin-forming cells
19.07.2018 | Advanced Science Research Center, GC/CUNY
NYSCF researchers develop novel bioengineering technique for personalized bone grafts
18.07.2018 | New York Stem Cell Foundation
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
19.07.2018 | Materials Sciences
19.07.2018 | Earth Sciences
19.07.2018 | Life Sciences