Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Calpain is important to memory processes after all

Date:
January 21, 2010
Source:
University of Southern California
Summary:
Recent studies reestablish the importance to memory processes of calpain, a protease first hypothesized to play a crucial role in memory 25 years ago.

A second high-profile paper in as many months has found an important role in learning and memory for calpain, a molecule whose academic fortunes have ebbed and flowed for 25 years.

USC's Michel Baudry (then at the University of California, Irvine) and Gary Lynch (UC Irvine) first pointed to calpain as the key to memory in a seminal 1984 paper in Science on the biochemistry of memory.

In a paper published Jan. 20 in the Journal of Neuroscience, Baudry and graduate student Sohila Zadran report that calpain mediates the effects of brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF).

BDNF is a modulator that some neuroscientists consider a potential "fountain of youth" for its effect on synapses, the chemical junctions that neurons use to communicate.

"Calpain is a key element in synaptic remodeling that underlies learning and memory," Baudry said. "Our findings also suggest that learning and memory is an emerging property of cell movement."

"All these great things that we're seeing about BDNF indeed involve calpain," Zadran said.

Last month, in a paper published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, Baudry and Zadran showed that estrogen's beneficial effects on learning and memory seem to occur through calpain.

The findings matter for anyone who seeks to understand the biochemical machinery that leads to memory formation. They also are likely to guide the development of drugs for memory and learning enhancement.

In her experiments, lead author Zadran used a biochemical probe to measure calpain activation in cultured neurons. She found that BDNF added to the cultures caused the activation of calpain, and she discovered how BDNF was doing it in the dendritic spines, the mushroom-like structures where communication between neurons takes place.

When calpain was activated through BDNF, the spine structure changed in ways similar to those that occur during learning.

But when activation was blocked with calpain inhibitors, the addition of BDNF had no effect -- implying that this modulator, which is essential for learning and memory, requires calpain to act.

For Zadran and Baudry, the experiments represent vindication for calpain, which has gone in and out of favor.

"Calpain's back. Calpain is there, it's activated, it's involved in all of these things," Zadran said.

If Zadran has indeed settled the 25-year debate over calpain's relevance, she has done it in the blink of an eye. She is expected to complete her Ph.D. at USC in two years. This summer, she will head across town to the California Institute of Technology for postdoctoral work.

Zadran and Baudry's co-authors were USC research assistant professor Hussam Jourdi, the co-lead author, and graduate student Karoline Rostamiani; also involved were postdoctoral fellow Quingyu Qin and associate professor Xiaoning Bi from the Western University of Health Sciences in Pomona.

Funding for the research came from the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by University of Southern California. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

University of Southern California. "Calpain is important to memory processes after all." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 21 January 2010. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/01/100119172753.htm>.
University of Southern California. (2010, January 21). Calpain is important to memory processes after all. ScienceDaily. Retrieved April 24, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/01/100119172753.htm
University of Southern California. "Calpain is important to memory processes after all." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/01/100119172753.htm (accessed April 24, 2014).

Share This



More Mind & Brain News

Thursday, April 24, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Study Says Most Crime Not Linked To Mental Illness

Study Says Most Crime Not Linked To Mental Illness

Newsy (Apr. 22, 2014) A new study finds most crimes committed by people with mental illness are not caused by symptoms of their illness or disorder. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
How Smaller Plates And Cutlery Could Make You Feel Fuller

How Smaller Plates And Cutlery Could Make You Feel Fuller

Newsy (Apr. 22, 2014) NBC's "Today" conducted an experiment to see if changing the size of plates and utensils affects the amount individuals eat. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Do We Get Nicer With Age?

Do We Get Nicer With Age?

Newsy (Apr. 22, 2014) A recent report claims personality can change over time as we age, and usually that means becoming nicer and more emotionally stable. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
How to Master Motherhood With the Best Work/Life Balance

How to Master Motherhood With the Best Work/Life Balance

TheStreet (Apr. 22, 2014) In the U.S., there are more than 11 million couples trying to conceive at any given time. From helping celebrity moms like Bethanny Frankel to ordinary soon-to-be-moms, TV personality and parenting expert, Rosie Pope, gives you the inside scoop on mastering motherhood. London-born entrepreneur Pope is the creative force behind Rosie Pope Maternity and MomPrep. She explains why being an entrepreneur offers the best life balance for her and tips for all types of moms. Video provided by TheStreet
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