Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

New Role For Well-known Protein: Could Lead To Lead To Alzheimer's, Parkinson's Treatments

Date:
October 22, 2007
Source:
Massachusetts Institute of Technology
Summary:
In a finding that may lead to potential new treatments for diseases such as Alzheimer's and Parkinson's, researchers report an unexpected role in the brain for a well-known protein. The new study shows that the same protein that enables a yeast cell to bud into two daughter cells also helps neurons sprout the branch-like protrusions used to communicate with other neurons.

Fluorescent micrograph (scale bar: 10 micrometers) shows yeast cells (red) with septin (green), which enables the budding of daughter cells. MIT researchers have found septin also helps neurons sprout the branch-like protrusions used to communicate with other neurons.
Credit: Philippsen Lab, Biozentrum Basel

In a finding that may lead to potential new treatments for diseases such as Alzheimer's and Parkinson's, researchers at the Picower Institute for Learning and Memory at MIT report an unexpected role in the brain for a well-known protein.

A study by Morgan H. Sheng, Menicon Professor of Neuroscience and a Howard Hughes Medical Institute investigator, and colleagues appearing in the Oct. 23 issue of Current Biology shows that the same protein that enables a yeast cell to bud into two daughter cells also helps neurons sprout the branch-like protrusions used to communicate with other neurons.

The work revolves around septins--proteins known since the 1970s to play an essential function in the process through which the cytoplasm of a single yeast cell divides. "In yeast, septin is localized exactly at the neck between the yeast mother cell and the bud or emerging daughter cell," Sheng said. "Amazingly, we found septin protein localized at the base of the neck of neuronal dendritic spines and at the branchpoint of dendritic branches."

Nine of the 14 septins found in mammals are found in the brain. One of them, Sept7, appears the most, but its role was unclear. Septins form long filaments and act as scaffolds, recruiting other proteins into their assigned roles of builders of the cell infrastructure.

While neurons don't divide, they do form protrusions that eventually elongate into dendritic branches. Dendrites, from the Greek word for "tree," conduct electrical stimulation from other neurons to the cell body of the neuron from which the dendrites project.

Electrical stimulation is transmitted via synapses, which are located at various points along the dendritic branches. Dendrites play a critical role in receiving these synaptic inputs. "Because dendritic spines are important for synaptic function and memory formation, understanding of septins may help to prevent the loss of spines and synapses that accompanies many neurodegenerative diseases," said co-author Tomoko Tada, a postdoctoral associate in the Picower Institute. "Septin could be a potential target protein to treat these diseases."

Moreover, in the cultured hippocampal neurons the researchers used in the study, septin was essential for normal branching and spine formation. An abundance of septin made dendrites grow and proliferate while a dearth of septin made them small and malformed.

"Boosting septin expression and function would enhance the stability of spines and synapses, and therefore be good for cognitive functions such as learning and memory," Sheng said. His laboratory is now exploring ways to prevent septin degradation and loss.

In addition to Sheng and Tada, authors are MIT affiliates Alyson Simonetta and Matthew Batterton; Makoto Kinoshita of Kyoto University Graduate School of Medicine; and Picower postdoctoral associate Dieter Edbauer.

This work is supported by the National Institutes of Health and the RIKEN-MIT Neuroscience Research Center.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

Massachusetts Institute of Technology. "New Role For Well-known Protein: Could Lead To Lead To Alzheimer's, Parkinson's Treatments." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 22 October 2007. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2007/10/071021143430.htm>.
Massachusetts Institute of Technology. (2007, October 22). New Role For Well-known Protein: Could Lead To Lead To Alzheimer's, Parkinson's Treatments. ScienceDaily. Retrieved September 1, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2007/10/071021143430.htm
Massachusetts Institute of Technology. "New Role For Well-known Protein: Could Lead To Lead To Alzheimer's, Parkinson's Treatments." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2007/10/071021143430.htm (accessed September 1, 2014).

Share This




More Health & Medicine News

Monday, September 1, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Get on Your Bike! London Cycling Popularity Soars Despite Danger

Get on Your Bike! London Cycling Popularity Soars Despite Danger

AFP (Sep. 1, 2014) Wedged between buses, lorries and cars, cycling in London isn't for the faint hearted. Nevertheless the number of people choosing to bike in the British capital has doubled over the past 15 years. Duration: 02:27 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Can You Train Your Brain To Eat Healthy?

Can You Train Your Brain To Eat Healthy?

Newsy (Sep. 1, 2014) New research says if you condition yourself to eat healthy foods, eventually you'll crave them instead of junk food. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
We've Got Mites Living In Our Faces And So Do You

We've Got Mites Living In Our Faces And So Do You

Newsy (Aug. 30, 2014) A new study suggests 100 percent of adult humans (those over 18 years of age) have Demodex mites living in their faces. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Liberia Continues Fight Against Ebola

Liberia Continues Fight Against Ebola

AFP (Aug. 30, 2014) Authorities in Liberia try to stem the spread of the Ebola epidemic by raising awareness and setting up sanitation units for people to wash their hands. Duration: 00:41 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:
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