Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

A good network is important for brain activity

Date:
July 31, 2012
Source:
Charité - Universitätsmedizin Berlin
Summary:
Speech, sensory perception, thought formation, decision-making processes and movement are complex tasks that the brain only masters when individual nerve cells (neurons) are well connected. Neuroscientists have now discovered a molecular switch that regulates this networking of nerve cells.

Speech, sensory perception, thought formation, decision-making processes and movement are complex tasks that the brain only masters when individual nerve cells (neurons) are well connected. Berlin neuroscientists have now discovered a molecular switch that regulates this networking of nerve cells.

The scientists from Charité -- Universitätsmedizin Berlin, the NeuroCure Cluster of Excellence and the Max Delbrück Center for Molecular Medicine (MDC) have published their work in the journal Genes and Development.

The dendritic tree, a highly branched structure of neurons, plays an important role in these brain functions. The dendrites act like antennae to receive signals from other cells and send them on to the nerve cell body. Congenital neurological conditions, like mental retardation, are often associated with errors in dendritic tree development.

Marta Rosário's research team, in cooperation with Victor Tarabykin from Charité and Walter Birchmeier from MDC, has now discovered how this branching process is controlled during development. In living mice, it could be shown that the NOMA-GAP protein serves as a switch in this process. Maturing neurons produce this switch protein, which then starts a chain of signals in cells that leads to dendritic branching. A central element of this signal chain is a protein, called Cdc42. It plays an important role in the first developmental stages of neurons, but inhibits the branching of the dendritic tree in later developmental stages. When NOMA-GAP becomes active, it turns off Cdc42 allowing maturing neurons to form complex dendritic trees. The correct deployment of the switch protein and control of the signal chain regulated by Cdc42 are thus essential for the proper dendritic branching of neurons and thus for the development of the neocortex (the cerebral cortex) that steers sensory perception, memory, speech and movement, among other functions.

"Errors in this signal cascade lead to an incompletely developed dendritic tree. The result is a risk of mental limitations as signals in the brain cannot be adequately processed," explains Marta Rosário. "For us the study forms an important foundation for researching various conditions, like mental retardation, schizophrenia or depression, that will hopefully point out new therapeutic avenues."


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Charité - Universitätsmedizin Berlin. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. M. Rosario, S. Schuster, R. Juttner, S. Parthasarathy, V. Tarabykin, W. Birchmeier. Neocortical dendritic complexity is controlled during development by NOMA-GAP-dependent inhibition of Cdc42 and activation of cofilin. Genes & Development, 2012; DOI: 10.1101/gad.191593.112

Cite This Page:

Charité - Universitätsmedizin Berlin. "A good network is important for brain activity." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 31 July 2012. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/07/120731102948.htm>.
Charité - Universitätsmedizin Berlin. (2012, July 31). A good network is important for brain activity. ScienceDaily. Retrieved September 17, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/07/120731102948.htm
Charité - Universitätsmedizin Berlin. "A good network is important for brain activity." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/07/120731102948.htm (accessed September 17, 2014).

Share This



More Health & Medicine News

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Obesity Rates Steady Even As Americans' Waistlines Expand

Obesity Rates Steady Even As Americans' Waistlines Expand

Newsy (Sep. 17, 2014) — Researchers are puzzled as to why obesity rates remain relatively stable as average waistlines continue to expand. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
President To Send 3,000 Military Personnel To Fight Ebola

President To Send 3,000 Military Personnel To Fight Ebola

Newsy (Sep. 16, 2014) — President Obama is expected to send 3,000 troops to West Africa as part of the effort to contain Ebola's spread. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Obama Orders Military Response to Ebola

Obama Orders Military Response to Ebola

AP (Sep. 16, 2014) — Calling the Ebola outbreak in West Africa a potential threat to global security, President Barack Obama is ordering 3,000 U.S. military personnel to the stricken region amid worries that the outbreak is spiraling out of control. (Sept. 16) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
UN: 20,000 Could Be Infected With Ebola by Year End

UN: 20,000 Could Be Infected With Ebola by Year End

AFP (Sep. 16, 2014) — Nearly $1.0 billion dollars is needed to fight the Ebola outbreak raging in west Africa, the United Nations say, warning that 20,000 could be infected by year end. Duration: 00:40 Video provided by AFP
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