Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Clues to neuronal health found in tree-like nerve cell structures

Date:
May 12, 2010
Source:
American Society for Technion - Israel Institute of Technology
Summary:
Using the small, round worm C. elegans, researchers have discovered how elaborate dendritic trees (tree-like nerve structures) are formed and maintained. Possible applications include treatments for neurodegenerative diseases and repair of injuries in which neurons are damaged.

A breakthrough about the formation and maintenance of tree-like nerve cell structures could have future applications in the treatment of neurodegenerative diseases and the repair of injuries in which neurons are damaged.

The findings by the international team led by Prof. Benjamin Podbilewicz of the Technion-Israel Institute of Technology Faculty of Biology are published in the May 6th issue of Science Express.

While biologists have known for years that many neurons form complicated tree-like structures, it was not known HOW the neurons form and maintain them. To unravel this mystery, the team first studied the dynamic development of two neurons (called PVDs) required for reception of strong mechanical stimuli in the round worm Caenorhabditis elegans (C. elegans). [Prof. Podbilewicz cites Martin Chalfie, the Nobel laureate from Columbia University, as having previously shown that when a worm is hit on the body, it responds by moving away, demonstrating that the PVDs are necessary for C. elegans to sense pain.]

"The PVDs also elaborate neuronal trees comprising structural units we call 'menorahs,' because they look like multi-branched candelabra," said Prof. Podbilewicz, adding that each of these tiny branches is just one-millionth of an inch in diameter.

Using light and electron microscopy in live and fixed C. elegans, the team also studied how the number, structure and function of these menorahs were maintained. In doing so, they discovered that a membrane protein called EFF-1 (which is also essential for the mediation of fusion between cells to form giant, multi-nucleate cells) has important roles in menorah formation and maintenance.

According to Prof. Podbilewicz, EFF-1 also acts in the PVDs to trim the branches of neuronal tree menorahs. When the gene encoding for EFF-1 was deleted, the C. elegans displayed disorganized menorahs with many more branches. And too much EFF-1 in the PVD reduced branching. By cutting, retracting and fusing branches, EFF-1 prunes excess or abnormal branches, serving as part of a quality control process that is important for sculpting and maintenance of complicated menorahs.

The scientists arrived at their findings during studies of the small (one millimeter long) C. elegans, which is considered to be an ideal animal for studying neuronal biology. Since humans are believed to have more than 100 billion neurons, understanding how they develop, connect and function is nearly impossible. But since C. elegans has just 302 neurons, the animal has been a veritable gold mine in the study of neurons, as well as many other fields of biology (including how organs form, how embryos develop, aging, and the programmed death of cells).

Also contributing to this research were Dr. Gidi Shemer and Meital Oren-Sussa of the Technion Department of Biology; David Hall from the Albert Einstein College of Medicine; and Millet Treinin from the Hebrew University-Hadassah Medical School.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by American Society for Technion - Israel Institute of Technology. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. Meital Oren-Suissa, David H. Hall, Millet Treinin, Gidi Shemer, and Benjamin Podbilewicz. The Fusogen EFF-1 Controls Sculpting of Mechanosensory Dendrites. Science, 2010; DOI: 10.1126/science.1189095

Cite This Page:

American Society for Technion - Israel Institute of Technology. "Clues to neuronal health found in tree-like nerve cell structures." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 12 May 2010. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/05/100506141606.htm>.
American Society for Technion - Israel Institute of Technology. (2010, May 12). Clues to neuronal health found in tree-like nerve cell structures. ScienceDaily. Retrieved September 30, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/05/100506141606.htm
American Society for Technion - Israel Institute of Technology. "Clues to neuronal health found in tree-like nerve cell structures." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/05/100506141606.htm (accessed September 30, 2014).

Share This



More Health & Medicine News

Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

How 'Yes Means Yes' Defines Sexual Assault

How 'Yes Means Yes' Defines Sexual Assault

Newsy (Sep. 29, 2014) Aimed at reducing sexual assaults on college campuses, California has adopted a new law changing the standard of consent for sexual activity. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Scientists May Have Found An Early Sign Of Pancreatic Cancer

Scientists May Have Found An Early Sign Of Pancreatic Cancer

Newsy (Sep. 29, 2014) Researchers looked at 1,500 blood samples and determined people who developed pancreatic cancer had more branched chain amino acids. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Colo. Doctors See Cluster of Enterovirus Cases

Colo. Doctors See Cluster of Enterovirus Cases

AP (Sep. 29, 2014) Doctors at the Children's Hospital of Colorado say they have treated over 4,000 children with serious respiratory illnesses since August. Nine of the patients have shown distinct neurological symptoms, including limb weakness. (Sept. 29) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Dr.'s Unsure of Cause of Fast-Spreading Virus

Dr.'s Unsure of Cause of Fast-Spreading Virus

AP (Sep. 29, 2014) Doctors at the Children's Hospital of Colorado say they have treated over 4,000 children with serious respiratory illnesses since August. Nine of the patients have shown distinct neurological symptoms, including limb weakness. (Sept. 29) 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