Now, working together, scientists from the Florida campus of The Scripps Research Institute (TSRI), Columbia University and the University of Florida, Gainesville, have developed a novel strategy for isolating and characterizing a substantial number of RNAs transported from the cell-body of neuron (nerve cell) to the synapse, the small gap separating neurons that enables cell to cell communication.
In the study, published recently in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, the scientists focused on the RNA transport complexes that interact with the molecular motor kinesin; kinesin proteins move along filaments known as microtubules in the cell and carry various gene products during the early stage of memory storage.
While neurons use active transport mechanisms such as kinesin to deliver RNA cargos to synapses, once they arrive at their synaptic destination that service stops and is taken over by other, more localized mechanisms—in much the same way that a traveler’s bags gets handed off to the hotel doorman once the taxi has dropped them at the entrance.
The scientists identified thousands of these unique sequences of both coding and noncoding RNAs. As it turned out, several of these RNAs play key roles in the maintenance of synaptic function and growth.The scientists also uncovered several antisense RNAs (paired duplicates that can inhibit gene expression), although what their function at the synapse might be remains unknown.
Eric Sauter | EurekAlert!
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