Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Unique protein bond enables learning and memory

Date:
October 30, 2012
Source:
Georgia Health Sciences University
Summary:
Two proteins have a unique bond that enables brain receptors essential to learning and memory to not only get and stay where they're needed, but to be hauled off when they aren't, researchers say. NMDA receptors increase the activity and communication of brain cells and are strategically placed, much like a welcome center, at the receiving end of the communication highway connecting two cells. They also are targets in brain-degenerating conditions such as Alzheimer's and Parkinson's.

Two proteins have a unique bond that enables brain receptors essential to learning and memory to not only get and stay where they're needed, but to be hauled off when they aren't, researchers say.

NMDA receptors increase the activity and communication of brain cells and are strategically placed, much like a welcome center, at the receiving end of the communication highway connecting two cells. They also are targets in brain-degenerating conditions such as Alzheimer's and Parkinson's.

In a true cradle-to-grave relationship, researchers have found the scaffolding protein, SAP102, which helps stabilize the receptor on the cell surface, binds with a subunit of the NMDA receptor called GluN2B at two sites, said Dr. Bo-Shiun Chen, neuroscientist at the Medical College of Georgia at Georgia Health Sciences University.

While one binding site is the norm, these proteins have one that's stronger than the other. When it's time for the normal receptor turnover, the stronger bond releases and the lesser one shuttles the receptor inside the cell for degradation or recycling.

"One binding site is involved in stabilizing the receptor on the cell surface and the other is important in removing the receptor. We think it's a paradigm shift; we've never thought about the same scaffolding protein having two roles," said Chen, corresponding author of the study in the journal Cell Reports.

"We believe by understanding the normal turnover of these receptors, we can learn more about how to prevent the abnormal receptor loss that occurs in debilitating diseases such as Alzheimer's." In Parkinson's, the receptors inexplicably move away from where the synapse, or information highway, connects to the neuron, making them less effective. NMDA receptors are supposed to cluster where the synapse hooks into the receiving neuron; in fact, it's part of what anchors the synapse, Chen said.

Interestingly, this pivotal protein, SAP102, a member of the MAGUK family of scaffolding proteins, is the only family member known to directly contribute to maladies: its mutation causes intellectual disability.

While all cells have a system for managing the number of receptors on their surface, in Alzheimer's, this removal process appears accelerated, with increased engulfing of receptors and less neuron-to-neuron communication. The neurotransmitter glutamate helps establish and maintain the synapse and also binds with GluN2B.

GluN2B-containing NMDA receptors stay open to receive information for a long time, enabling the type of vigorous and sustained communication that enables learning and memory. In fact the number of these receptors naturally decreases with age, which may be one reason young people learn easier. When it's time to remove a receptor, phosphorus gets added to GluN2B, changing its function so it no longer binds to the scaffolding protein.

Chen's research was funded by the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke and conducted in mice and rat neurons in culture. Collaborators include Dr. Roger A. Nicoll, Professor, Departments of Cellular and Molecular Pharmacology and Physiology, the University of California, San Francisco, and Dr. Katherine W. Roche, Senior Investigator, National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Georgia Health Sciences University. The original article was written by Toni Baker. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. Bo-Shiun Chen, JohnA. Gray, Antonio Sanz-Clemente, Zhe Wei, EleanorV. Thomas, RogerA. Nicoll, KatherineW. Roche. SAP102 Mediates Synaptic Clearance of NMDA Receptors. Cell Reports, 2012; DOI: 10.1016/j.celrep.2012.09.024

Cite This Page:

Georgia Health Sciences University. "Unique protein bond enables learning and memory." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 30 October 2012. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/10/121030161418.htm>.
Georgia Health Sciences University. (2012, October 30). Unique protein bond enables learning and memory. ScienceDaily. Retrieved September 30, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/10/121030161418.htm
Georgia Health Sciences University. "Unique protein bond enables learning and memory." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/10/121030161418.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