Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Rutgers Scientists Discover Protein In Brain Affects Learning And Memory

Date:
January 19, 2004
Source:
Rutgers, The State University Of New Jersey
Summary:
Rutgers researchers have discovered what could be the newest target for drugs in the treatment of memory and learning disabilities as well as diseases such as Alzheimer's and fetal alcohol syndrome: a protein known as cypin.

NEW BRUNSWICK/PISCATAWAY, N.J. – Rutgers researchers have discovered what could be the newest target for drugs in the treatment of memory and learning disabilities as well as diseases such as Alzheimer's and fetal alcohol syndrome: a protein known as cypin.

Related Articles


Cypin is found throughout the body, but in the brain it regulates nerve cell or neuron branching. Branching or dendrite growth is an important process in normal brain function and is thought to increase when a person learns. A reduction in branching is associated with certain neurological diseases.

"The identification of cypin and understanding how it works in the brain is particularly exciting since it opens up new avenues for the treatment of serious neurological disorders," said principal investigator Bonnie Firestein, assistant professor of cell biology and neuroscience at Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey. "This paves the way to designing new drugs that could target this protein molecule."

Proteins or the genes that code for them have become the targets of choice for developing precisely focused, effective new drug therapies – one of the outcomes of the many revelations provided by the Human Genome Project.

Firestein first identified and isolated cypin in 1999 during her postdoctoral research. She is currently focusing on how it works in the hippocampus, a structure in the brain associated with the regulation of emotions and memory.

"We knew that cypin existed elsewhere in the body where it performs other functions, but no one knew why it was present in the brain," Firestein. Her new research determined that cypin in the brain works as an enzyme involved in shaping neurons.

"One end of a neuron looks like a tree and, in the hippocampus, cypin controls the growth of its branches," she explained. "An increase in the number of branches provides additional sites where a neuron can receive information that it can pass along, enhancing communication."

Maxine Chen, a graduate student in Firestein's laboratory, helped substantiate the connection between cypin and dendrite growth. When she looked closely at neurons in the lab, she found cypin only in certain neurons – "neurons that tended to be more fuzzy," as she described those with increased dendrites. Stimulating neurons in a dish also produced an increase in the protein overall. This has been shown to increase dendrite growth.

Fellow graduate student Barbara Akum further verified the connection between the protein and branching. She used a new molecular technique developed by Samuel Gunderson, a Rutgers assistant professor of molecular biology and biochemistry. With this new tool, Akum reduced the expression of cypin and observed a consequent decrease in branching.

"We also found something else that is really exciting," said Firestein, referring to the molecular mechanics by which cypin affects dendrite growth. Cypin appears to act as a glue that cements other molecules together into long chain structures that extend through the branches of a dendrite as a skeleton.

"Cypin works on tubulin, a protein that is a structural building block of the dendrite skeleton," explained Firestein. "If you just take our purified protein and mix it with tubulin in a test tube, the cypin on its own will actually cause these skeletal structures to grow."

A paper presenting this research will appear in Nature Neuroscience online beginning (Sunday) Jan. 19.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Rutgers, The State University Of New Jersey. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

Rutgers, The State University Of New Jersey. "Rutgers Scientists Discover Protein In Brain Affects Learning And Memory." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 19 January 2004. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2004/01/040119083346.htm>.
Rutgers, The State University Of New Jersey. (2004, January 19). Rutgers Scientists Discover Protein In Brain Affects Learning And Memory. ScienceDaily. Retrieved March 31, 2015 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2004/01/040119083346.htm
Rutgers, The State University Of New Jersey. "Rutgers Scientists Discover Protein In Brain Affects Learning And Memory." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2004/01/040119083346.htm (accessed March 31, 2015).

Share This


More From ScienceDaily



More Health & Medicine News

Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Solitair Device Aims to Takes Guesswork out of Sun Safety

Solitair Device Aims to Takes Guesswork out of Sun Safety

Reuters - Innovations Video Online (Mar. 31, 2015) — The Solitair device aims to take the confusion out of how much sunlight we should expose our skin to. Small enough to be worn as a tie or hair clip, it monitors the user&apos;s sun exposure by taking into account their skin pigment, location and schedule. Matthew Stock reports. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
Soda, Salt and Sugar: The Next Generation of Taxes

Soda, Salt and Sugar: The Next Generation of Taxes

Washington Post (Mar. 30, 2015) — Denisa Livingston, a health advocate for the Dinι Community Advocacy Alliance, and the Post&apos;s Abby Phillip discuss efforts around the country to make unhealthy food choices hurt your wallet as much as your waistline. Video provided by Washington Post
Powered by NewsLook.com
UnitedHealth Buys Catamaran

UnitedHealth Buys Catamaran

Reuters - Business Video Online (Mar. 30, 2015) — The $12.8 billion merger will combine the U.S.&apos; third and fourth largest pharmacy benefit managers. Analysts say smaller PBMs could also merge. Fred Katayama reports. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
S. Leone in New Anti-Ebola Lockdown

S. Leone in New Anti-Ebola Lockdown

AFP (Mar. 28, 2015) — Sierra Leone imposed a three-day nationwide lockdown Friday for the second time in six months in a bid to prevent a resurgence of the deadly Ebola virus. Duration: 01:17 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
 
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:  

Breaking News:

Strange & Offbeat Stories

 

Health & Medicine

Mind & Brain

Living & Well

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:  

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile iPhone Android Web
Follow Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins