Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Researchers Develop New System to Study Trigger of Cell Death in Nervous System

05.04.2013
Researchers at the University of Arkansas have developed a new model system to study a receptor protein that controls cell death in both humans and fruit flies, a discovery that could lead to a better understanding of neurodegenerative diseases such as Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s.

Michael Lehmann, an associate professor of biological sciences, uses fruit fly genetics to study the receptor — N-methyl-D-aspartate receptor, known as the NMDA receptor — that triggers programmed cell death in the human nervous system.

With an aging population, neurodegenerative diseases have become a major public health concern, Lehmann said.

“Whenever brain cells die as a result of neurodegenerative disease, or as a consequence of injuries caused by stroke, exposure to alcohol or neurotoxins, this receptor is involved,” he said. “So it’s very important to understand how it functions and how it may be possible to influence it.”

When larvae of Drosophila melanogaster, a common fruit fly, grow from the larval stage into adults, they shed most of their former organs and grow new ones. About 1 ½ years ago, researchers in Lehmann’s laboratory discovered that the NMDA receptor is required for cell death in the system that they had used for several years to study basic mechanisms of programmed cell death in fruit flies.

“Our model system for studying programmed cell death is the salivary glands in the fly larvae, which are comparatively large organs that completely disappear during metamorphosis,” he said. “Disposal of this tissue by programmed cell death provides us with a very nice system to study the genes that are required for the process. We can use it to identify genes that are required for programmed cell death in humans, as well.”

The National Institutes of Health has awarded Lehmann a three-year, $260,530 grant to support the study.

Brandy Ree, a doctoral student in the interdisciplinary graduate program in cell and molecular biology, worked with Lehmann to use a combination of biochemistry and fruit fly genetics in an attempt to define the pathway that leads from activation of the receptor to the cell’s eventual death.

“We developed a new system to study the receptor outside the nervous system in a normal developmental context,” Lehmann said. “Many of the different components involved in cell death are known in this system. There are more than 30,000 publications about this receptor, but there is still very little known about how the receptor causes cell death. We just have to connect the dots and fit the receptor into the pathway to find out how exactly it contributes to the cell’s death.”

A mid-career investigator in the Center for Protein Structure and Function at the University of Arkansas, Lehmann has studied programmed cell death in Drosophila melanogaster for more than a decade.

In 2007, Lehmann’s research group discovered an important mechanism that regulates the destruction of larval fruit fly salivary glands that could point the way to understanding programmed cell death in the human immune system. They published their findings in the Journal of Cell Biology.

Michael Lehmann, associate professor, biological sciences
J. William Fulbright College of Arts and Sciences
479-575-3688, mlehmann@uark.edu

Michael Lehmann | Newswise
Further information:
http://www.uark.edu

More articles from Life Sciences:

nachricht Nonstop Tranport of Cargo in Nanomachines
20.11.2018 | Max-Planck-Institut für molekulare Zellbiologie und Genetik

nachricht Researchers find social cultures in chimpanzees
20.11.2018 | Universität Leipzig

All articles from Life Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

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

Im Focus: Nonstop Tranport of Cargo in Nanomachines

Max Planck researchers revel the nano-structure of molecular trains and the reason for smooth transport in cellular antennas.

Moving around, sensing the extracellular environment, and signaling to other cells are important for a cell to function properly. Responsible for those tasks...

Im Focus: UNH scientists help provide first-ever views of elusive energy explosion

Researchers at the University of New Hampshire have captured a difficult-to-view singular event involving "magnetic reconnection"--the process by which sparse particles and energy around Earth collide producing a quick but mighty explosion--in the Earth's magnetotail, the magnetic environment that trails behind the planet.

Magnetic reconnection has remained a bit of a mystery to scientists. They know it exists and have documented the effects that the energy explosions can...

Im Focus: A Chip with Blood Vessels

Biochips have been developed at TU Wien (Vienna), on which tissue can be produced and examined. This allows supplying the tissue with different substances in a very controlled way.

Cultivating human cells in the Petri dish is not a big challenge today. Producing artificial tissue, however, permeated by fine blood vessels, is a much more...

Im Focus: A Leap Into Quantum Technology

Faster and secure data communication: This is the goal of a new joint project involving physicists from the University of Würzburg. The German Federal Ministry of Education and Research funds the project with 14.8 million euro.

In our digital world data security and secure communication are becoming more and more important. Quantum communication is a promising approach to achieve...

Im Focus: Research icebreaker Polarstern begins the Antarctic season

What does it look like below the ice shelf of the calved massive iceberg A68?

On Saturday, 10 November 2018, the research icebreaker Polarstern will leave its homeport of Bremerhaven, bound for Cape Town, South Africa.

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

VideoLinks
Industry & Economy
Event News

Optical Coherence Tomography: German-Japanese Research Alliance hosted Medical Imaging Conference

19.11.2018 | Event News

“3rd Conference on Laser Polishing – LaP 2018” Attracts International Experts and Users

09.11.2018 | Event News

On the brain’s ability to find the right direction

06.11.2018 | Event News

 
Latest News

Nonstop Tranport of Cargo in Nanomachines

20.11.2018 | Life Sciences

Researchers find social cultures in chimpanzees

20.11.2018 | Life Sciences

When AI and optoelectronics meet: Researchers take control of light properties

20.11.2018 | Physics and Astronomy

VideoLinks
Science & Research
Overview of more VideoLinks >>>