Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Study tracks inner workings of the brain with new biosensor

16.08.2018

An international team of scientists have taken an important step towards gaining a better understanding of the brain’s inner workings, including the molecular processes that could play a role in neurological disorders such as epilepsy.

The research team has, for the first time, optically tracked the movements of the neurotransmitter glycine, which is a signalling molecule in the brain, with a new biosensor.


Biosensor for neurotransmitter glycine: Professor Christian Henneberger (r) and his college from Bonn, Dr. Daniel Minge (l) use a microscope to observe brain tissue at work

© Rolf Müller / UK Bonn

Associate Professor Colin Jackson from The Australian National University (ANU) said the new study would help scientists gain more insight into many neurological diseases that occur due to dysfunctional neurotransmitter activity.

“To understand how the brain works at the molecular level and how things can go wrong, we need to understand the release and uptake of neurotransmitters,” said Associate Professor Jackson from the ANU Research School of Chemistry.

“Neurotransmitters are too small to see directly, so we made a new biosensor for them.”

The research team designed and made a protein to bind glycine and fused it with two other proteins that are fluorescent.

Glycine is a neurotransmitter in the central nervous system, including in the cortex, spinal cord, brainstem and retina, that plays a role in neuronal communication and learning, and also in processing motor and sensory information that permits movement, vision and hearing.

“When the binding protein binds to glycine, the fluorescent proteins change their relative positions and we see a change in fluoresce that we can monitor with a special microscope,” Associate Professor Jackson said.

“There was previously no way to visualise the activity of glycine in brain tissue – we can do this now, which is exciting.

“In the future, we want to make sensors for other neurotransmitters and to use our sensor to look at the molecular basis of certain neurological diseases.”

The research was funded by the Human Frontiers in Science Fellowship Program, which funded Associate Professor Jackson’s team at ANU and researchers at the University of Bonn in Germany and the Institute of Science and Technology in Austria.

Professor Christian Henneberger’s team at the University of Bonn in Germany assisted in design of the sensor and developed the techniques to use the new biosensor in living brain tissue. This enabled them to see how glycine levels change in real time in response to neuronal activity and how glycine is distributed in living brain tissue.

“The sensor allowed us to directly test important hypotheses about glycine signalling. We also discovered that, unexpectedly, glycine levels change during neuronal activity that induces learning-related synaptic changes,” Professor Henneberger said.

“We are following up our study by further exploring the mechanisms that govern glycine’s influence on information processing in the healthy brain and also in disease models.”

The study will be published in the journal Nature Chemical Biology in September and is already available online:

Publication: William H. Zhang, Michel K. Herde, Joshua A. Mitchell, Jason H. Whitfield, Andreas B. Wulff, Vanessa Vongsouthi, Inmaculada Sanchez-Romero, Polina E. Gulakova, Daniel Minge, Björn Breithausen, Susanne Schoch, Harald Janovjak, Colin J. Jackson & Christian Henneberger: Monitoring hippocampal glycine with the computationally designed optical sensor GlyFS; Nature Chemical Biology; DOI: 10.1038/s41589-018-0108-2

FOR INTERVIEWS:

Professor Christian Henneberger
Institute of Cellular Neuroscience
University of Bonn
Phone: +49(0)228/287-16304
E: christian.henneberger@uni-bonn.de

Professor Colin Jackson
Research School of Chemistry
ANU College of Science / Australia
Phone: +61 2 6125 8325
E: colin.jackson@anu.edu.au

Dr. Inka Väth | idw - Informationsdienst Wissenschaft
Further information:
http://www.uni-bonn.de/

More articles from Health and Medicine:

nachricht Spread of deadly eye cancer halted in cells and animals
13.11.2018 | Johns Hopkins Medicine

nachricht Breakthrough in understanding how deadly pneumococcus avoids immune defenses
13.11.2018 | University of Liverpool

All articles from Health and Medicine >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

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

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.

Im Focus: Penn engineers develop ultrathin, ultralight 'nanocardboard'

When choosing materials to make something, trade-offs need to be made between a host of properties, such as thickness, stiffness and weight. Depending on the application in question, finding just the right balance is the difference between success and failure

Now, a team of Penn Engineers has demonstrated a new material they call "nanocardboard," an ultrathin equivalent of corrugated paper cardboard. A square...

Im Focus: Coping with errors in the quantum age

Physicists at ETH Zurich demonstrate how errors that occur during the manipulation of quantum system can be monitored and corrected on the fly

The field of quantum computation has seen tremendous progress in recent years. Bit by bit, quantum devices start to challenge conventional computers, at least...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

VideoLinks
Industry & Economy
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

European Space Talks: Weltraumschrott – eine Gefahr für die Gesellschaft?

23.10.2018 | Event News

 
Latest News

The dawn of a new era for genebanks - molecular characterisation of an entire genebank collection

13.11.2018 | Life Sciences

Fish recognize their prey by electric colors

13.11.2018 | Life Sciences

Ultrasound Connects

13.11.2018 | Awards Funding

VideoLinks
Science & Research
Overview of more VideoLinks >>>