Stoned sea-squirts

The psychoactive ingredient of the drug cannabis exerts its effects on the human brain by activating proteins known as cannabinoid receptors. Dr. Maurice Elphick of Queen Mary, University of London has uncovered the first evidence that cannabinoid receptors may not be unique to humans and other vertebrates.

The genome of the sea- squirt was recently sequenced, revealing a cannabinoid receptor gene in an invertebrate for the first time. This means that these receptors were present in the common ancestor of the chordates, much further back on the evolutionary timescale than previously thought.

As Dr. Elphick will report on Thursday 1st April 2004 at the annual SEB meeting in Edinburgh [session A1.7], the sea-squirt cannabinoid receptor gene is expressed in tissues outside the nervous system, raising interesting questions about the functions of this evolutionarily conserved signalling system.

Evolutionary biologists are interested in how the cannabinoid system evolved and how it works in different animals. Dr. Elphick is currently working on the functions of the cannabinoid receptor, to relate what is happening at a molecular level with the physiological effects. He has already established that the cannabinoid system is a fundamental signalling system in the central nervous system of vertebrates, where it plays a role in movement, pain, and learning and memory. In invertebrates such as the sea-squirt, however, the system may have very different functions, perhaps indicating how and why the system evolved in the first place.

Media Contact

Yfke van Bergen alfa

Alle Nachrichten aus der Kategorie: Life Sciences

Articles and reports from the Life Sciences area deal with applied and basic research into modern biology, chemistry and human medicine.

Valuable information can be found on a range of life sciences fields including bacteriology, biochemistry, bionics, bioinformatics, biophysics, biotechnology, genetics, geobotany, human biology, marine biology, microbiology, molecular biology, cellular biology, zoology, bioinorganic chemistry, microchemistry and environmental chemistry.

Zurück zur Startseite

Kommentare (0)

Schreib Kommentar

Neueste Beiträge

A COSMIC approach to nanoscale science

Instrument at Berkeley Lab’s Advanced Light Source achieves world-leading resolution of nanomaterials. COSMIC, a multipurpose X-ray instrument at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory’s (Berkeley Lab’s) Advanced Light Source (ALS), has made…

Twistoptics – A new way to control optical nonlinearity

Columbia researchers engineer first technique to exploit the tunable symmetry of 2D materials for nonlinear optical applications, including laser, optical spectroscopy, imaging, and metrology systems, as well as next-generation optical…

Tracking proteins in the heart of cells

For the first time, a UNIGE team has been able to follow precisely the path taken by a protein within the cell, paving the way for the study of the…

Partners & Sponsors