Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Molecular 'Foreman' Discovered For Brain Wiring

Date:
November 24, 2007
Source:
Cell Press
Summary:
Researchers have identified a master regulatory molecule that is responsible for triggering the remodeling of neuronal connections that is critical for learning. Malfunctioning of the connection-remodeling machinery that they identified may also play a role in mental retardation, schizophrenia, and drug addiction. Thus, said the researchers, knowledge of the machinery could lead to insights into those disorders.

When you meet your boss's husband, Harvey, at the office holiday party, then bump into him an hour later over the onion dip, will you remember his name? Yes, thanks to a nifty protein in your brain called kalirin-7.

Related Articles


Researchers have identified a master regulatory molecule that is responsible for triggering the remodeling of neuronal connections that is critical for learning.

Malfunctioning of the connection-remodeling machinery that they identified may also play a role in mental retardation, schizophrenia, and drug addiction. Thus, said the researchers, knowledge of the machinery could lead to insights into those disorders.

Peter Penzes and colleagues published their findings in the journal Neuron. In their experiments, the researchers sought to understand the biological machinery controlling the enlargement of mushroom-like structures called dendritic spines on neurons. Such spines are the receiving stations for neurotransmitters--signaling chemicals that one neuron launches to trigger a nerve impulse in its neighbor. During learning, these spines strengthen signaling between neurons during the process of laying down memory pathways in the brain.

Spine structure can also be involved in neurological disorders. Researchers have found abnormal dendritic spines in certain types of mental retardation, including autism spectrum disorders, as well as schizophrenia and drug addiction.

Specifically, Penzes and colleagues sought to discover whether a molecule called kalirin-7 plays a role in spine enlargement in mature neurons when they undergo a learning-related strengthening called long-term potentiation (LTP).

The researchers theorized that kalirin-7 might be a key regulator of spine development because it is found in high concentration in the spines of mature neurons. Also, kalirin-7 was known to play a role in the remodeling of the structural beams and studs of the cell, called the cytoskeleton.

The researchers' experiments with cultured neurons revealed that activation of neurons during LTP does indeed trigger kalirin-7 to turn on the machinery for remodeling spines, causing spines to become enlarged.

What's more, the researchers found that kalirin-7 also regulates the other major process necessary for strengthening neuronal signaling connections. Kalirin-7 controls the number of neurotransmitter-receiving stations, called receptors, that festoon the surface of dendritic spines. The number of these receptors determines the strength of signaling connections between neurons.

The researchers concluded that their findings "strongly suggest that kalirin-7 may be an important regulator of the experience-dependent modifications of forebrain circuits during postnatal development and may play an important role in learning and memory."

They also pointed out that altered spine structures "have been associated with mental retardation, neuropsychiatric disorders, and drug addiction. Specifically, aberrant spine morphology in forebrain occurs in many types of mental retardation, including fragile-X and autism spectrum disorders." Similarly, they noted, studies of schizophrenics have also revealed such alteration of dendritic spines, as well as evidence of defects in the kalirin-7 pathway.

"Therefore, our results may suggest potential strategies for treatments of these neurodevelopmental and psychiatric diseases," they wrote.

This research was published November 21, 2007. The researchers include Zhong Xie, Deepak P. Srivastava, Huzefa Photowala, Li Kai, Michael E. Cahill, Kevin M. Woolfrey, Cassandra Y. Shum, D. James Surmeier, and Peter Penzes, of the Department of Physiology, Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine, Chicago, IL, USA.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Cell Press. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

Cell Press. "Molecular 'Foreman' Discovered For Brain Wiring." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 24 November 2007. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2007/11/071121145025.htm>.
Cell Press. (2007, November 24). Molecular 'Foreman' Discovered For Brain Wiring. ScienceDaily. Retrieved April 25, 2015 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2007/11/071121145025.htm
Cell Press. "Molecular 'Foreman' Discovered For Brain Wiring." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2007/11/071121145025.htm (accessed April 25, 2015).

Share This


More From ScienceDaily



More Health & Medicine News

Saturday, April 25, 2015

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

85 Killed in Niger by Meningitis Since Start of Year

85 Killed in Niger by Meningitis Since Start of Year

AFP (Apr. 24, 2015) A meningitis outbreak in Niger has killed 85 people since the start of the year prompting authorities to close schools in the capital Niamey until Monday. Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
C-Section Births a Trend in Brazil

C-Section Births a Trend in Brazil

AFP (Apr. 24, 2015) More than half of Brazil&apos;s babies are born via cesarean section, as mothers and doctors opt for a faster and less painful experience despite the health risks. Duration: 02:02 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Anti-Malaria Jab Hope

Anti-Malaria Jab Hope

Reuters - News Video Online (Apr. 24, 2015) The world&apos;s first anti-malaria vaccine could get the go-ahead for use in Africa from October if approved by international regulators. Paul Chapman reports. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
3D Food Printing: The Meal of the Future?

3D Food Printing: The Meal of the Future?

AP (Apr. 23, 2015) Developers of 3D food printing hope the culinary technology will revolutionize the way we cook and eat. (April 23) Video provided by AP
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