Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Novel Pathway Regulates Timing Of Brain Cell Development

Date:
October 6, 2006
Source:
Children's Hospital Boston
Summary:
Brain formation involves the carefully timed production of different types of nerve cells -- making too much of one type and too little of another at a given time could lead to brain malformations. In the Oct. 6 issue of Cell, researchers at Children's Hospital Boston report a mechanism that influences this timing, with possible implications for Alzheimer's, schizophrenia, autism and other diseases.

Brain formation involves the carefully timed production of different types of nerve cells by neural stem cells: neurons are produced first, then astrocytes. Making too much of one kind of cell and too little of another at a given time could lead to brain malformations. In the October 6 issue of Cell, researchers in the Neurobiology Program at Children's Hospital Boston report discovering a new molecular pathway that influences the timing of nerve-cell production.

The pathway--which acts through a novel and unexpected mechanism--inhibits production of astrocytes during the early stages of brain development, thereby favoring the production of neurons. (Astrocytes provide structural and functional support to neurons, but can also regulate their differentiation.) Children's neurobiologist Gabriel Corfas, PhD, senior investigator on the study, says the discovery could have implications for diseases such as Alzheimer's disease, schizophrenia and autism.

One key component of the pathway is a protein called erbB4 that straddles the outer membrane of the neural stem cell. Corfas's team showed that mice lacking erbB4 produced astrocytes earlier in embryonic development than normal. ErbB4 is activated by another protein called neuregulin 1 (NRG1), and then is cut in two by a third critical protein called presenilin, the researchers showed. The half of erbB4 that resides inside the cell--a protein called E4ICD--then joins with other proteins in the cell and travels to the cell nucleus. "Once in the nucleus, E4ICD represses genes that trigger astrocyte production, and thereby inhibits astrocyte formation," explains S. Pablo Sardi, PhD, a postdoctoral fellow at Children's and the study's first author.

Previous studies have found presenilin activity to be altered in Alzheimer's disease, and that erbB4 is abundant around the plaques found in Alzheimer's patients' brains. Taken together, the evidence suggests that presenilin's role in Alzheimer's may have to do, in part, with its effects on erbB4 activity--an effect that was previously unrecognized. ErbB4 signaling also regulates neuronal function and survival, processes that have been implicated in Alzheimer's pathology, the researchers note.

"Our findings raise the intriguing possibility that defects in presenilin-mediated erbB4 signaling could be implicated in the early stages of Alzheimer's disease," Corfas says. "Further studies of erbB4 nuclear signaling could provide important insights into the causes of neurodegeneration."

In addition, the genes for both NRG1 and erbB4 have been linked to schizophrenia. Corfas speculates that premature formation of astrocytes resulting from altered functioning of these genes causes subtle malformations in the brain's circuitry. "Changes in the timing in which different neural cells are produced could lead to alterations in brain wiring," he says. "This would lead to alterations in cognitive function such as those seen in schizophrenia--which is now considered to be a developmental disorder--and potentially in other diseases such as autism."

Corfas's work was funded by the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke, the National Alliance for Research on Schizophrenia and Depression, and an NIH Developmental Disability Research Center Grant.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Children's Hospital Boston. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

Children's Hospital Boston. "Novel Pathway Regulates Timing Of Brain Cell Development." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 6 October 2006. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2006/10/061006080501.htm>.
Children's Hospital Boston. (2006, October 6). Novel Pathway Regulates Timing Of Brain Cell Development. ScienceDaily. Retrieved July 28, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2006/10/061006080501.htm
Children's Hospital Boston. "Novel Pathway Regulates Timing Of Brain Cell Development." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2006/10/061006080501.htm (accessed July 28, 2014).

Share This




More Mind & Brain News

Monday, July 28, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Losing Sleep Leaves You Vulnerable To 'False Memories'

Losing Sleep Leaves You Vulnerable To 'False Memories'

Newsy (July 27, 2014) A new study shows sleep deprivation can make it harder for people to remember specific details of an event. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
University Quiz Implies Atheists Are Smarter Than Christians

University Quiz Implies Atheists Are Smarter Than Christians

Newsy (July 25, 2014) An online quiz from a required course at Ohio State is making waves for suggesting atheists are inherently smarter than Christians. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Beatings and Addiction: Pakistan Drug 'clinic' Tortures Patients

Beatings and Addiction: Pakistan Drug 'clinic' Tortures Patients

AFP (July 24, 2014) A so-called drugs rehab 'clinic' is closed down in Pakistan after police find scores of ‘patients’ chained up alleging serial abuse. Duration 03:05 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
New Painkiller Designed To Discourage Abuse: Will It Work?

New Painkiller Designed To Discourage Abuse: Will It Work?

Newsy (July 24, 2014) The FDA approved Targiniq ER on Wednesday, a painkiller designed to keep users from abusing it. Like any new medication, however, it has doubters. Video provided by Newsy
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:
from the past week

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