Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Wnt signaling pathway plays key role in adult nerve cell generation

Date:
September 10, 2012
Source:
University of Utah Health Sciences
Summary:
Researchers report that a cell-to-cell communication network known as the Wnt signaling pathway plays an important role in both the production and specialization of nerve cell precursors in the hypothalamus.

Researchers from the University of Utah have gained new insight into the regulation of adult nerve cell generation in the hypothalamus, the part of the brain that regulates many aspects of behavior, mood, and metabolism. In the Sept. 10, 2012, issue of Developmental Cell they report that a cell-to-cell communication network known as the Wnt signaling pathway plays an important role in both the production and specialization of nerve cell precursors in the hypothalamus.

Related Articles


The hypothalamus is a highly complex region of the brain that controls hunger, thirst, fatigue, body temperature, and sleep. It also links the central nervous system to the body system that regulates hormone levels. Recent studies have shown that the hypothalamus is one of the parts of the brain in which neurogenesis, the birth of new nerve cells, continues throughout adulthood.

"In our earlier work, we discovered that Wnt signaling was required for neurogenesis in the embryonic zebrafish hypothalamus," says Richard Dorsky, Ph.D., associate professor of neurobiology and anatomy at the University of Utah School of Medicine and senior author on the study. "We also found that, in zebrafish, both Wnt signaling and hypothalamic neurogenesis continue into adulthood. The goal of this study was to define specific roles for Wnt signaling in neurogenesis."

The Wnt signaling pathway is a network of proteins that transmits signals from the cell surface to DNA in the cell nucleus to regulate gene expression, and it is known to play a critical role in cell-to-cell communication in both embryos and adults. In this study, Dorsky and his colleagues demonstrated that in zebrafish embryos Wnt signaling is present in progenitor cells that are actively multiplying in the hypothalamus. Progenitor cells have the potential to divide and differentiate into a variety of specialized cell types. Dorsky and his colleagues also found that Wnt signaling continues to be required for hypothalamic neurogenesis throughout life.

Neural progenitor cells arise from neural stem cells, and retain the capacity to develop into more specialized types of nerve cells. After the embryo is formed, some neural stem cells lie dormant in the brain and spinal cord until they are activated to serve as a repair system. When tissue damage or death occurs, chemical substances trigger these neural stem cells to make neural progenitor cells that assist in tissue recovery. Recent research suggests that other neural progenitor cells continue to make new nerve cells in the uninjured brain and contribute to the plasticity of the brain in response to changes in the environment.

"From a functional standpoint, it is not yet clear why the ability to continuously produce hypothalamic nerve cells is important in adult zebrafish," says Dorsky. "However, in adult mice, hypothalamic neurogenesis seems to be significant in the regulation of feeding behaviors due to environmental changes."

Dorsky and his colleagues discovered that the role of the Wnt signaling pathway differs between embryos and adults. In zebrafish embryos, activation of Wnt signaling is required for proliferation of progenitor cells contributing to growth of brain structures. However, at later stages of development including adulthood, Wnt signaling must be active for neural progenitor cells to commit to becoming nerve cells, but then must be inhibited for these cells to complete the differentiation process. Significantly, Dorsky and his colleagues also found that mice displayed a similar pattern of Wnt activity.

"Compared to other regions of the brain, the hypothalamus is relatively unstudied as a model of post-embryonic neurogenesis," says Dorsky. "Our research represents a significant contribution to the field because it establishes the vertebrate hypothalamus as a model of Wnt-regulated neural progenitor differentiation that can be used to shed light on the plasticity of the adult brain."


Story Source:

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


Journal Reference:

  1. Xu Wang, Daniel Kopinke, Junji Lin, AdamD. McPherson, RobertN. Duncan, Hideo Otsuna, Enrico Moro, Kazuyuki Hoshijima, DavidJ. Grunwald, Francesco Argenton, Chi-Bin Chien, L.Charles Murtaugh, RichardI. Dorsky. Wnt Signaling Regulates Postembryonic Hypothalamic Progenitor Differentiation. Developmental Cell, 2012; 23 (3): 624 DOI: 10.1016/j.devcel.2012.07.012

Cite This Page:

University of Utah Health Sciences. "Wnt signaling pathway plays key role in adult nerve cell generation." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 10 September 2012. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/09/120910122105.htm>.
University of Utah Health Sciences. (2012, September 10). Wnt signaling pathway plays key role in adult nerve cell generation. ScienceDaily. Retrieved November 22, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/09/120910122105.htm
University of Utah Health Sciences. "Wnt signaling pathway plays key role in adult nerve cell generation." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/09/120910122105.htm (accessed November 22, 2014).

Share This


More From ScienceDaily



More Health & Medicine News

Saturday, November 22, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

WFP: Ebola Risks Heightened Among Women Throughout Africa

WFP: Ebola Risks Heightened Among Women Throughout Africa

AFP (Nov. 21, 2014) Having children has always been a frightening prospect in Sierra Leone, the world's most dangerous place to give birth, but Ebola has presented an alarming new threat for expectant mothers. Duration: 00:37 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Could Your Genes Be The Reason You're Single?

Could Your Genes Be The Reason You're Single?

Newsy (Nov. 21, 2014) Researchers in Beijing discovered a gene called 5-HTA1, and carriers are reportedly 20 percent more likely to be single. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Raw: Paralyzed Marine Walks With Robotic Braces

Raw: Paralyzed Marine Walks With Robotic Braces

AP (Nov. 21, 2014) Marine Corps officials say a special operations officer left paralyzed by a sniper's bullet in Afghanistan walked using robotic leg braces in a ceremony to award him a Bronze Star. (Nov. 21) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Milestone Birthdays Can Bring Existential Crisis, Study Says

Milestone Birthdays Can Bring Existential Crisis, Study Says

Newsy (Nov. 21, 2014) Researchers find that as people approach new decades in their lives they make bigger life decisions. 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:

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