Functioning much like gears in a machine, cellular motor proteins are critical to dynamic functions throughout the body, including muscle contraction, cell migration and cellular growth processes. Now, neuroscientists from UC Irvine and the Florida campus of The Scripps Research Institute report that motor proteins also play a critical role in the stabilization of long-term memories. The findings add an unexpected dimension to the story of how memories are encoded and suggest new targets for therapeutic interventions.
UCI's Christopher Rex and Gavin Rumbaugh at Scripps found that myosin II proteins, more commonly studied in muscle contraction and cell migration, are critical for functional brain plasticity and learning. The work builds on a fundamental theory of memory – posed over 25 years ago by UCI neuroscientist Gary Lynch – that memories are the product of structural rearrangements of synapses in the brain.
"We suspected that motor proteins are involved in synaptic plasticity," said Rumbaugh, an assistant professor of neuroscience. "Now that we know that they are, we can begin to investigate how the vast literature on motor proteins from other cell types may generalize to neurons."
Study results appear in the Aug.26 issue of Neuron.
Myosin II motors are one of the most studied protein complexes in the human body. They are best known for interacting with actin filaments to control initiate forces within cellular compartments.
"Cells are constructed like buildings," said Rex, a Kauffman Foundation Fellow in anatomy & neurobiology. "Actin can be thought of as the building's frame, meaning it determines the scale and design of the structure. Myosin II would then be like a crane moving the beams into place. The main difference being that myosin II is poised to both tear down and rebuild the structure with a completely different design at any minute."
A core tenant of contemporary theory is that the sizes and shapes of dendritic spines, small protrusions at the receiving end of chemical transmission at synapses, are critical for determining synaptic strength.
"We know that appropriate patterns of neuronal activity can cause structural changes to these elements spines, now our major focus is to understand how this works," said Lynch, who contributed to the study.
Having discovered that a submicroscopic motor drives synaptic reorganization, the UCI and Scripps research groups believe they are substantially closer to understanding how to selectively enhance memory formation, and thereby treat the memory problems associated with aging, post-traumatic stress, mental retardation and age-related neurodegenerative diseases.
Christine Gall, Eniko Kramar, Lulu Chen and Yousheng Jia of UCI; Cristin Gavin and Courtney Miller of Scripps; Maria Rubio of the University of Alabama, Birmingham; Richard Huganir of Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine; and Nicholas Muzyczka of the University of Florida contributed to this work, which received support from the National Institutes of Health; the University of Alabama, Birmingham; the McKnight Brain Institute; Alabama Health Sciences Foundation; and the Kauffman Foundation.
Tom Vasich | EurekAlert!
Breakthrough in designing a better Salmonella vaccine
25.09.2018 | University of California - Davis
Proof of Concept: Gene therapy for mitochondrial diseases
25.09.2018 | Max-Planck-Institut für Biologie des Alterns
The Fraunhofer FEP has been involved in developing processes and equipment for cleaning, sterilization, and surface modification for decades. The CleanHand Network for development of systems and technologies to clean surfaces, materials, and objects was established in May 2018 to bundle the expertise of many partnering organizations. As a partner in the CleanHand Network, Fraunhofer FEP will present the Network and current research topics of the Institute in the field of hygiene and cleaning at the parts2clean trade fair, October 23-25, 2018 in Stuttgart, at the booth of the Fraunhofer Cleaning Technology Alliance (Hall 5, Booth C31).
Test reports and studies on the cleanliness of European motorway rest areas, hotel beds, and outdoor pools increasingly appear in the press, especially during...
The building blocks of matter in our universe were formed in the first 10 microseconds of its existence, according to the currently accepted scientific picture. After the Big Bang about 13.7 billion years ago, matter consisted mainly of quarks and gluons, two types of elementary particles whose interactions are governed by quantum chromodynamics (QCD), the theory of strong interaction. In the early universe, these particles moved (nearly) freely in a quark-gluon plasma.
This is a joint press release of University Muenster and Heidelberg as well as the GSI Helmholtzzentrum für Schwerionenforschung in Darmstadt.
Then, in a phase transition, they combined and formed hadrons, among them the building blocks of atomic nuclei, protons and neutrons. In the current issue of...
Thin-film solar cells made of crystalline silicon are inexpensive and achieve efficiencies of a good 14 percent. However, they could do even better if their shiny surfaces reflected less light. A team led by Prof. Christiane Becker from the Helmholtz-Zentrum Berlin (HZB) has now patented a sophisticated new solution to this problem.
"It is not enough simply to bring more light into the cell," says Christiane Becker. Such surface structures can even ultimately reduce the efficiency by...
A study in the journal Bulletin of Marine Science describes a new, blood-red species of octocoral found in Panama. The species in the genus Thesea was discovered in the threatened low-light reef environment on Hannibal Bank, 60 kilometers off mainland Pacific Panama, by researchers at the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute in Panama (STRI) and the Centro de Investigación en Ciencias del Mar y Limnología (CIMAR) at the University of Costa Rica.
Scientists established the new species, Thesea dalioi, by comparing its physical traits, such as branch thickness and the bright red colony color, with the...
Scientists have succeeded in observing the first long-distance transfer of information in a magnetic group of materials known as antiferromagnets.
21.09.2018 | Event News
03.09.2018 | Event News
27.08.2018 | Event News
25.09.2018 | Information Technology
25.09.2018 | Earth Sciences
25.09.2018 | Materials Sciences