Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Mental retardation gene provides insights into brain formation

Date:
February 15, 2011
Source:
Duke University Medical Center
Summary:
Scientists have uncovered new clues to memory and learning by exploring the function of a single gene, and at the same time, have provided insights into a form of human mental retardation.

Mice without WRP had difficulty learning and didn't display typical memory ability in several experiments.
Credit: Image courtesy of Duke University Medical Center

Scientists at Duke University Medical Center have uncovered clues to memory and learning by exploring the function of a single gene that governs how neurons form new connections. The finding may also provide insights into a form of human mental retardation.

Related Articles


In a study published in the Journal of Neuroscience, the scientists explored the gene WRP's functions in the brain cell (neuron) and then demonstrated how acutely memory and learning are affected when WRP is missing in mice.

"Human genomics studies have opened the floodgates of information that will benefit people with many different diseases," said Scott Soderling, an assistant professor in the Duke department of cell biology. "But it is impossible to correct something without knowing what the exact underlying problem is."

The researchers knew from earlier human research into the genetics of one individual that when WRP is disrupted, there might be a possible link with severe mental retardation.

The group conducted experiments using neuronal cells in a lab dish which showed that cells enriched with WRP went on to form many filopodia, finger-like protrusions that neurons use to connect with one another.

Without WRP, neurons ultimately were defective in making filopodia,which meant they could not make the correct number of connections, called synapses.

In studies on mice with and without the WRP gene, the researchers were able to see behavior differences.

In one experiment, they tested normal and WRP-deleted mice for their behavior in recognizing a previously unseen toy versus a familiar toy.

A mouse with the gene will typically spend less time investigating a toy it has seen before, but the knockout mice spent the same amount of time each toy, suggesting they don't remember the toy they saw yesterday.

"There was a striking difference between the groups of mice," said Soderling, who is part of the Neonatal Perinatal Research Institute. "The mice without WRP had difficulty learning and didn't display typical memory ability in several experiments."

"Because the excitatory synapses that we are studying form their connections right after birth in humans, we think these specific pathways may even provide an opportunity for early intervention after birth," Soderling said. "Abnormalities in these types of synapses have been linked to mental retardation, and also to schizophrenia and fetal alcohol syndrome, where there are abnormalities that could later affect learning and memory."

"What surprised me most is that we had a preconceived notion that WRP would be part of a process that helped the neuronal cell surface fold inward," said lead author Benjamin Carlson, a graduate student in the Soderling lab. "Eventually we figured out it was just the opposite. When we placed the WRP protein on the inside of the neurons, we could see these buds forming out of the neurons, which then became the longer filopodia and synapses. It is rewarding when you finally think through the possibilities and take a different approach that turns out to yield something valuable."

Soderling credits his collaborators in the Duke Transgenic Mouse and Bacterial Recombineering Core Facility, which helped to produce the right type of mouse for the research.

Other authors include Krissey E. Lloyd, Allison Kruszewski, Il-Hwan Kim, Clifford Heindel and William C. Wetsel of the Duke Departments of Cell Biology and Neurobiology and the Neonatal Perinatal Research Institute; and Wetsel, Ramona M. Rodriguiz and Marika Faytell of Duke Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences. Faytell is also with the Mouse Behavioral and Neuroendocrine Analysis Core Facility at Duke. Serena M. Dudek is with the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences in Research Triangle Park, N.C.

This work was supported by National Institutes of Health Grant, March of Dimes Grant Basil O' Connor Starter Scholar Research Grant, Dana Foundation Grant, and by the Intramural Research Program of the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences Grant.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Duke University Medical Center. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. Benjamin R. Carlson, Krissey E. Lloyd, Allison Kruszewski, Il-Hwan Kim, Ramona M. Rodriguiz, Clifford Heindel, Marika Faytell, Serena M. Dudek, William C. Wetsel, and Scott H. Soderling. WRP/srGAP3 Facilitates the Initiation of Spine Development by an Inverse F-BAR Domain, and Its Loss Impairs Long-Term Memory. Journal of Neuroscience, 2011; DOI: 10.1523/JNEUROSCI.4433-10.2011

Cite This Page:

Duke University Medical Center. "Mental retardation gene provides insights into brain formation." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 15 February 2011. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/02/110215191623.htm>.
Duke University Medical Center. (2011, February 15). Mental retardation gene provides insights into brain formation. ScienceDaily. Retrieved March 2, 2015 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/02/110215191623.htm
Duke University Medical Center. "Mental retardation gene provides insights into brain formation." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/02/110215191623.htm (accessed March 2, 2015).

Share This


More From ScienceDaily



More Health & Medicine News

Monday, March 2, 2015

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Treadmill Test Can Predict Chance Of Death Within A Decade

Treadmill Test Can Predict Chance Of Death Within A Decade

Newsy (Mar. 2, 2015) Johns Hopkins researchers analyzed 58,000 heart stress tests to come up with a formula that predicts a person&apos;s chances of dying in the next decade. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Going Gluten-Free Could Get You A Tax Break

Going Gluten-Free Could Get You A Tax Break

Newsy (Mar. 2, 2015) If a doctor advises you to remove gluten from your diet, you could get a tax deduction on the amount you spend on gluten-free foods. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
GlaxoSmithKline and Novartis Try Swapping Success

GlaxoSmithKline and Novartis Try Swapping Success

Reuters - Business Video Online (Mar. 2, 2015) GlaxoSmithKline and Novartis have completed a series of asset swaps worth more than $20 billion. As Grace Pascoe reports they say the deal will reshape both drugmakers. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
How Can West Africa Rebuild After Ebola?

How Can West Africa Rebuild After Ebola?

Reuters - Business Video Online (Mar. 2, 2015) How best to rebuild the three West African countries struggling with Ebola will be discussed in Brussels this week. As Hayley Platt reports Sierra Leone has the toughest job ahead - its once thriving economy has been ravaged by the disease. Video provided by Reuters
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