Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Researchers develop marker that identifies energy-producing centers in nerve cells

05.02.2007
Discovery provides a tool to track brain cell metabolic changes related to aging and diseases such as Alzheimer's, Parkinson's and Huntington's

A protein that causes coral to glow is helping researchers at the University of Maryland School of Medicine to light up brain cells that are critical for the proper functioning of the central nervous system. This fluorescent marker protein may shed light on brain cell defects believed to play a role in various neurological diseases. The researchers describe how this marker works in mice in the December 20, 2006, issue of The Journal of Neuroscience.

The marker gives scientists the first-ever opportunity to distinguish between energy-producing structures, called mitochondria, in neurons, from mitochondria in other brain cells, called glia. Defects in mitochondria may be part of the process that leads to Alzheimer's and Parkinson's disease, as well as changes in the brain associated with stroke and aging.

"Prior to the development of this marker, we had no way to identify the mitochondria in neuronal cells from those in glial cells," says the study's principal investigator, Krish Chandrasekaran, Ph.D., an assistant professor in the Department of Anesthesiology at the University of Maryland School of Medicine. "Using this tool, we and other investigators can answer certain questions, such as to what extent does neuronal mitochondrial dysfunction contribute to Parkinson's or Alzheimer's. And, in a general way, we could look into whether there are changes in neuronal mitochondria as we age."

Using advanced genetic techniques, the researchers have produced mice with fluorescent protein markers that identify only the mitochondria in neurons. These structures light up with a greenish-yellow glow when the scientists look at the brains of these mice through a fluorescent microscope. The researchers have determined that the expression of the fluorescent protein does not interfere with the normal functions of mitochondria.

Neurons conduct and generate electro-chemical impulses or nerve signals, which carry information from one part of the brain to another. Mitochondria in the neurons function like cellular powerhouses to produce those impulses through a metabolic process that combines oxygen with food calories. It is these nerve signals that cause muscles to move and thoughts to be processed. Dr. Chandrasekaran says the fluorescent marker system may make it possible to explore how neuronal activity and the mitochondrial energy-producing system are coordinated and how the interrelationship works.

The researchers say the establishment of the fluorescent marker in mice could unravel the mysteries of some of the most debilitating neurodegenerative diseases. The study's senior author, Tibor Kristian, Ph.D., an assistant professor in the Department of Anesthesiology at the University of Maryland School of Medicine, says there are animal models for several of these diseases including Parkinson's, Alzheimer's, amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (also known as ALS) and Huntington's disease. "The mice we have developed with the fluorescent protein could be bred with mouse models of various neurological diseases, so we could apply the ability to see mitochondria in neurons to the research of those diseases," says Dr. Kristian.

This mouse model could also be used to study the role of neuronal mitochondria in stroke and traumatic brain injury, according to Dr. Kristian. He says his investigators are developing a similar marker for glial cells in the brain.

Bill Seiler | EurekAlert!
Further information:
http://www.umm.edu

Further reports about: Neuronal Parkinson' energy-producing fluorescent mitochondria neurons

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 >>>