Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Two proteins key for normal-sized brains: Findings could shed light on evolution of human head size

Date:
May 13, 2010
Source:
Massachusetts Institute of Technology
Summary:
In work that may one day correct or prevent genetic conditions tied to smaller-than-normal brains and shed light on the evolution of human head size, researchers analyzed the interaction of two proteins key to brain development.

New research into two proteins key to brain development may one day correct or prevent genetic conditions tied to smaller-than-normal brains and shed light on the evolution of human head size.
Credit: iStockphoto/Stephen Kirklys

In work that may one day correct or prevent genetic conditions tied to smaller-than-normal brains and shed light on the evolution of human head size, researchers at MIT's Picower Institute for Learning and Memory analyzed the interaction of two proteins key to brain development.

Neurogenesis is the process through which neurons are created during prenatal development to populate the growing brain. Li-Huei Tsai, director of the Picower Institute and Picower Professor of Neuroscience, found that two proteins -- Cdk5rap2 and pericentrin -- work together to regulate neural growth in the developing brain. Loss of function of these proteins results in human disorders such as primary autosomal recessive microcephaly (MCPH) and Majewski osteodysplastic primordial dwarfism, type II (MOPDII), genetic conditions characterized in part by abnormally small head circumference.

An understanding of these rare genetic disorders may offer insight into one of the most striking differences between us and our closest living relatives: brain size and cognitive ability.

The researchers show that Cdk5rap2 and pericentrin interact with one another to regulate proliferation of neural progenitor cells that give rise to the brain layer called the neocortex. Pericentrin recruits Cdk5rap2 to structures within the neural progenitor cells, and loss of Cdk5rap2 results in decreased cell proliferation.

"Given the link between head circumference, intelligence deficits and psychiatric disorders, these findings have implications for our understanding of how abnormalities in brain development can play a role in a number of diseases," said Tsai, a Howard Hughes Medical Institute investigator and the director of the neurobiology program at the Broad Institute's Stanley Center for Psychiatric Research. In addition to leading to potential treatments for MCPH and MOPDII, the work may also shed light on the increase in brain size during human evolution.

To examine the role of CdkSrap2 in neurogenesis, the researchers knocked out Cdk5rap2 in mouse embryos during brain development. Effects included an altered distribution of cells among the cortical layers of the brain.The researchers are now exploring how these proteins and others mutated in individuals with MCPH may play a role in regulating signaling pathways relevant to brain development. "We would like to gain a broader understanding of how disrupted regulation of progenitor proliferation can impact brain development," Tsai said. "Ultimately, we hope to gain insight into how defects in these processes can contribute to diseases characterized by intelligence deficits and poor mental health."

This work, published in the journal Neuron, was supported by the National Institutes of Health and Howard Hughes Medical Institute.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Massachusetts Institute of Technology. The original article was written by Deborah Halber, MIT's Picower Institute for Learning and Memory. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. Joshua J. Buchman, Huan-Chung Tseng, Ying Zhou, Christopher L. Frank, Zhigang Xie, and Li-Huei Tsai. Cdk5rap2 Interacts with Pericentrin to Maintain the Neural Progenitor Pool in the Developing Neocortex. Neuron, 2010; 66 (3): 386-402 DOI: 10.1016/j.neuron.2010.03.036

Cite This Page:

Massachusetts Institute of Technology. "Two proteins key for normal-sized brains: Findings could shed light on evolution of human head size." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 13 May 2010. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/05/100512125222.htm>.
Massachusetts Institute of Technology. (2010, May 13). Two proteins key for normal-sized brains: Findings could shed light on evolution of human head size. ScienceDaily. Retrieved September 2, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/05/100512125222.htm
Massachusetts Institute of Technology. "Two proteins key for normal-sized brains: Findings could shed light on evolution of human head size." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/05/100512125222.htm (accessed September 2, 2014).

Share This




More Mind & Brain News

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

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
Coffee Then Napping: The (New) Key To Alertness

Coffee Then Napping: The (New) Key To Alertness

Newsy (Aug. 30, 2014) Researchers say having a cup of coffee then taking a nap is more effective than a nap or coffee alone. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Young Entrepreneurs Get $100,000, If They Quit School

Young Entrepreneurs Get $100,000, If They Quit School

AFP (Aug. 29, 2014) Twenty college-age students are getting 100,000 dollars from a Silicon Valley leader and a chance to live in San Francisco in order to work on the start-up project of their dreams, but they have to quit school first. Duration: 02:20 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Baby Babbling Might Lead To Faster Language Development

Baby Babbling Might Lead To Faster Language Development

Newsy (Aug. 29, 2014) A new study suggests babies develop language skills more quickly if their parents imitate the babies' sounds and expressions and talk to them often. 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