Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Revealing the regulating mechanism behind signal transduction in the brain

19.09.2008
Our brain consists of billions of cells that continually transmit signals to each other. This dynamic process - which enables us to learn, remember, and so much more - works only when the brain cells make contact correctly, or, in other words, when there is a good ‘synapse’.

An essential element in this process is a controlled protein production along with the synapse. VIB researchers connected to the Center for Human Genetics (K.U.Leuven) are now discovering how the Fragile X protein (FMRP) ensures that protein production is controlled at synapse and regulated by brain activity. Their findings are being published in the authoritative scientific journal Cell.

Fathoming the brain

Our ‘gray matter’ has yet to divulge all its secrets. For example, we do not yet fully understand how we are able to learn and remember things. We do know that dendrites and axons - the offshoots of brain cells - play a crucial role by making contact with each other in so-called synapses, through which signals are transmitted between different brain cells. Moreover, for properly functioning brain activity at a synapse, the right proteins must be present in the right concentrations. It has been known for some time that the brain’s cells are able to produce proteins directly at the place where they are needed. But exactly how the subtle regulation of this process works is still to be discovered.

FMRP: controlling protein production

Claudia Bagni (VIB, K.U.Leuven, University of Rome Tor Vergata) has been studying the FMRP protein for years now. The absence of FMRP leads to the Fragile X syndrome, a mental handicap afflicting a thousand Belgians. In this particular syndrome, the synapses are not well-formed. So, it is no surprise that FMRP plays an important role in the development and functioning of the brain. The researchers have already shown that FMRP suppresses protein production, but how has remained a mystery.

A shared job with CYFIP1

Ilaria Napoli and her colleagues from Claudia Bagni’s group are now discovering that FMRP cannot perform its job without another protein: CYFIP1. In a previous study, Claudia Bagni and her collaborators have shown that a reduced amount of FMRP in the brain increases the production of some neuronal proteins. The VIB researchers in Leuven have now elucidated the mechanism behind this. They have found that complexes of FMRP and CYFIP1 are located at the synapses and together suppress the local production of a number of proteins.

In the transduction of signals between brain cells, i.e. synaptic activation, CYFIP1 is released from the complex, whereby FMRP can no longer exercise its suppressing action. This is the impetus for the production of the proteins that are under the control of FMRP.

A change in the concentration of FMRP or CYFIP1 causes a disruption in this strict regulation of protein production. This, in its turn, causes diseases like Fragile X syndrome and Autism. Indeed, CYFIP1 has been recently found associated to Autism.

Importance of this research

With their research, Napoli and Bagni are shedding a bit more light on synapses in the brain - giving us more insight into learning and remembering, and also into a number of ‘brain disorders’. We now understand that, through its absence, FMRP plays a role in diseases like Fragile X syndrome and Autism.

Jonas De Backer | alfa
Further information:
http://www.vib.be

More articles from Life Sciences:

nachricht Scientists uncover the role of a protein in production & survival of myelin-forming cells
19.07.2018 | Advanced Science Research Center, GC/CUNY

nachricht NYSCF researchers develop novel bioengineering technique for personalized bone grafts
18.07.2018 | New York Stem Cell Foundation

All articles from Life Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

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

Im Focus: Future electronic components to be printed like newspapers

A new manufacturing technique uses a process similar to newspaper printing to form smoother and more flexible metals for making ultrafast electronic devices.

The low-cost process, developed by Purdue University researchers, combines tools already used in industry for manufacturing metals on a large scale, but uses...

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....

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

A smart safe rechargeable zinc ion battery based on sol-gel transition electrolytes

20.07.2018 | Power and Electrical Engineering

Reversing cause and effect is no trouble for quantum computers

20.07.2018 | Information Technology

Princeton-UPenn research team finds physics treasure hidden in a wallpaper pattern

20.07.2018 | Materials Sciences

VideoLinks
Science & Research
Overview of more VideoLinks >>>