Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Scientists Identify Genes Activated During Learning and Memory

20.04.2007
Computational Approach Will Advance Drug Discovery, Understanding of Learning

Researchers have long recognized that for learning and memory to take place, certain genes must be activated to alter neuron activity inside the brain. Disruptions in normal gene expression within these neurons can lead to alarming consequences, such as seizures and epilepsy. But identifying and cataloging all the genes involved in learning is a daunting task. In the March 13 issue of BMC Neuroscience, Carnegie Mellon University scientists show how an innovative computational approach can provide a rapid way to identify the likely members of this long sought-after set of genes.

"The work could ultimately lead to the development of drugs to treat neurological disorders," said Alison Barth, assistant professor of biological sciences and a member of the Center for the Neural Basis of Cognition (CNBC). "We also expect this work to provide a valuable platform for any investigator to understand how neurons change at the molecular level during learning and the formation of memory."

As an animal learns and remembers, specific neurons inside its brain are activated. The molecular changes associated with learning alter a neuron's function — a process called plasticity. For many years, neuroscientists have known that two factors, CREB and zif268, activate genes involved in neuronal plasticity and learning. CREB and zif268 are transcription factors, binding to a cluster of chemical bases represented in the genetic code as letters. Once bound, they regulate genes that, in turn, dictate the assembly of other proteins that alter a neuron during memory and learning.

... more about:
»CREB »Neuron »plasticity »zif268

The Carnegie Mellon team created a step-by-step set of instructions for a computer to search the letters of code that make up the human genome to find just those genes activated by CREB and zif268. They specifically searched almost 20,000 genes to find those that CREB and zif268 bind to. This work, conducted by Carnegie Mellon undergraduate Andreas Pfenning and supervised by Assistant Professor of Biological Sciences Russell Schwartz, was also performed on our distant mammalian relative, the mouse.

The computer program found hundreds of instances of genes that bind with either CREB or zif268 — and sometimes both — in human and mouse genomes. A huge proportion of these genes had never been previously identified as CREB or zif268 targets.

"Finding a gene that appears to be activated in both the mouse and human strongly suggests that the gene is involved in memory and learning," said Schwartz. "Genes that behave similarly in distantly related animals are more likely to have an important function that has been retained over the course of evolution."

The Carnegie Mellon team has made its findings available and searchable via an open source/online journal. Previous studies on genes associated with neural plasticity have not focused on a complete set of genes, nor has the work been searchable, according to Barth. But now, their online database of the plasticity transcriptome includes the gene name, symbol and reference number — data that are not usually all collected and made freely available.

"By using standard nomenclature and multiple identifiers, we've made this a robust set of data for future research studies," Schwartz added.

The CNBC is dedicated to understanding the neural mechanisms that give rise to cognitive processes, including learning and memory, language and thought, perception and attention, and planning and action. The CNBC faculty includes researchers with primary and joint appointments in the departments of biological sciences, computer science, psychology, robotics and statistics at Carnegie Mellon; and bioengineering, mathematics, neurobiology, neurology, neuroscience, psychiatry and psychology at the University of Pittsburgh.

Lauren Ward | EurekAlert!
Further information:
http://www.cnbc.cmu.edu

Further reports about: CREB Neuron plasticity zif268

More articles from Life Sciences:

nachricht Seeing on the Quick: New Insights into Active Vision in the Brain
15.08.2018 | Eberhard Karls Universität Tübingen

nachricht New Approach to Treating Chronic Itch
15.08.2018 | Universität Zürich

All articles from Life Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

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

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...

Im Focus: Lining up surprising behaviors of superconductor with one of the world's strongest magnets

Scientists have discovered that the electrical resistance of a copper-oxide compound depends on the magnetic field in a very unusual way -- a finding that could help direct the search for materials that can perfectly conduct electricity at room temperatur

What happens when really powerful magnets--capable of producing magnetic fields nearly two million times stronger than Earth's--are applied to materials that...

Im Focus: World record: Fastest 3-D tomographic images at BESSY II

The quality of materials often depends on the manufacturing process. In casting and welding, for example, the rate at which melts solidify and the resulting microstructure of the alloy is important. With metallic foams as well, it depends on exactly how the foaming process takes place. To understand these processes fully requires fast sensing capability. The fastest 3D tomographic images to date have now been achieved at the BESSY II X-ray source operated by the Helmholtz-Zentrum Berlin.

Dr. Francisco Garcia-Moreno and his team have designed a turntable that rotates ultra-stably about its axis at a constant rotational speed. This really depends...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

VideoLinks
Industry & Economy
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

2018 Work Research Conference

25.07.2018 | Event News

 
Latest News

Early opaque universe linked to galaxy scarcity

15.08.2018 | Physics and Astronomy

Molecular switch detects metals in the environment

15.08.2018 | Materials Sciences

Seeing on the Quick: New Insights into Active Vision in the Brain

15.08.2018 | Life Sciences

VideoLinks
Science & Research
Overview of more VideoLinks >>>