Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Store and Supply – How the Brain Saves Time

22.12.2016

Neurons in the brain store RNA molecules – DNA gene copies – in order to rapidly react to stimuli. This storage dramatically accelerates the production of proteins. This is one of the reasons why neurons in the brain can adapt quickly during learning processes. The recent results of a research group at the University of Basel’s Biozentrum have been published in the current issue of “Neuron”.

Our brain is not only the most complex organ of the human body, it is also the most flexible. But how do neurons in the brain adapt their function in response to stimuli within a very short time frame?


A storage of RNA molecules allows the brain to rapidly react to neuronal stimuli.

Image: University of Basel, Biozentrum

The research group of Prof. Peter Scheiffele at the Biozentrum, University of Basel, has demonstrated that neurons store a reserve stock of RNA molecules, copies of the DNA, in the cell’s nucleus. These RNA molecules form the blueprint for new proteins. After a neuronal stimulus, the stored RNA molecules are mobilized in order to adjust the function of the neuron. The process of RNA synthesis (DNA copying) is very slow, especially for large genes. Thus, this newly uncovered mechanism for mobilization of stored RNAs saves time and provides new insights regarding the fast adaptation of the brain during learning processes.

Storage for RNA molecules

... more about:
»BRAIN »DNA »RNA »RNA molecules »RNAs »genes »neurons »splicing

The RNA blueprint for proteins is produced by a sophisticated copying process: First, a basic RNA copy of the DNA is generated. From this copy, individual sections, so-called introns, are subsequently cut out to provide a finalized blueprint for the production of a specific protein. This process is called RNA splicing.

So far, it was assumed, that neuronal stimuli trigger the complete process for the production of new RNA molecules. However, the team of Peter Scheiffele now discovered that neurons in the brain pre-manufacture certain immature RNA copies which are only partially spliced. These RNA molecules still contain some introns and are stored in the cell nucleus. Signals induced by neuronal stimulation trigger the splicing completion of the immature RNA molecules.

“The copying process of the DNA, the so-called transcription, is already finalized in advance by the neurons. Hence, mature RNA molecules can be produced within minutes,” explains Oriane Mauger, the first author.

Prepared copies save time

For large genes, the production of the initial version of the RNAs itself takes dozens of hours. “The fact that the RNA molecules are already available in an immature form and only need to be completed, shortens the whole process to a few minutes”, says Mauger. “Since the transcription is very time-consuming, the storage of RNA means a significant time saving. This enables neurons to quickly adapt their function.”

“This study reveals a completely new regulatory mechanism for the brain”, declares Scheiffele. “The results provide us with a further explanation of how neurons steer rapid plasticity processes.”

Original source

Oriane Mauger, Frédéric Lemoine, and Peter Scheiffele
Targeted Intron Retention and Excision for Rapid Gene Regulation in Response to Neuronal Activity
Neuron (2016), doi: 10.1016/j.neuron.2016.11.032

Further information

Prof. Dr. Peter Scheiffele, University of Basel, Biozentrum, Tel. +41 61 207 21 94, Email: peter.scheiffele@unibas.ch

Heike Sacher, University of Basel, Biozentrum, Communications, Tel. +41 61 207 14 49, Email: heike.sacher@unibas.ch

Heike Sacher | Universität Basel

Further reports about: BRAIN DNA RNA RNA molecules RNAs genes neurons splicing

More articles from Life Sciences:

nachricht Lethal combination: Drug cocktail turns off the juice to cancer cells
12.12.2018 | Universität Basel

nachricht Smelling the forest – not the trees
12.12.2018 | Universität Konstanz

All articles from Life Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

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

Im Focus: Lethal combination: Drug cocktail turns off the juice to cancer cells

A widely used diabetes medication combined with an antihypertensive drug specifically inhibits tumor growth – this was discovered by researchers from the University of Basel’s Biozentrum two years ago. In a follow-up study, recently published in “Cell Reports”, the scientists report that this drug cocktail induces cancer cell death by switching off their energy supply.

The widely used anti-diabetes drug metformin not only reduces blood sugar but also has an anti-cancer effect. However, the metformin dose commonly used in the...

Im Focus: New Foldable Drone Flies through Narrow Holes in Rescue Missions

A research team from the University of Zurich has developed a new drone that can retract its propeller arms in flight and make itself small to fit through narrow gaps and holes. This is particularly useful when searching for victims of natural disasters.

Inspecting a damaged building after an earthquake or during a fire is exactly the kind of job that human rescuers would like drones to do for them. A flying...

Im Focus: Topological material switched off and on for the first time

Key advance for future topological transistors

Over the last decade, there has been much excitement about the discovery, recognised by the Nobel Prize in Physics only two years ago, that there are two types...

Im Focus: Researchers develop method to transfer entire 2D circuits to any smooth surface

What if a sensor sensing a thing could be part of the thing itself? Rice University engineers believe they have a two-dimensional solution to do just that.

Rice engineers led by materials scientists Pulickel Ajayan and Jun Lou have developed a method to make atom-flat sensors that seamlessly integrate with devices...

Im Focus: Three components on one chip

Scientists at the University of Stuttgart and the Karlsruhe Institute of Technology (KIT) succeed in important further development on the way to quantum Computers.

Quantum computers one day should be able to solve certain computing problems much faster than a classical computer. One of the most promising approaches is...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

VideoLinks
Industry & Economy
Event News

ICTM Conference 2019: Digitization emerges as an engineering trend for turbomachinery construction

12.12.2018 | Event News

New Plastics Economy Investor Forum - Meeting Point for Innovations

10.12.2018 | Event News

EGU 2019 meeting: Media registration now open

06.12.2018 | Event News

 
Latest News

New discoveries predict ability to forecast dementia from single molecule

12.12.2018 | Health and Medicine

CCNY-Yale researchers make shape shifting cell breakthrough

12.12.2018 | Physics and Astronomy

Pain: Perception and motor impulses arise in the brain independently of one another

12.12.2018 | Health and Medicine

VideoLinks
Science & Research
Overview of more VideoLinks >>>