Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Watching the developing brain, scientists glean clues on neurological disorder

Date:
November 13, 2012
Source:
University of North Carolina School of Medicine
Summary:
Researchers have tracked a gene's crucial role in orchestrating the placement of neurons in the developing brain. Their findings help unravel some of the mysteries of Joubert syndrome and other neurological disorders.

The left panel shows normal neuronal cell organization (red and green). Organization is lost when Arl13b gene is deleted (right panel).
Credit: Eva Anton Lab, UNC School of Medicine

As the brain develops, each neuron must find its way to precisely the right spot to weave the intricate network of links the brain needs to function. Like the wiring in a computer, a few misplaced connections can throw off functioning for an entire segment of the brain.

A new study by researchers at the University of North Carolina School of Medicine reveals how some nerve cells, called interneurons, navigate during the development of the cerebral cortex. Mutations in a key gene behind this navigation system underlie a rare neurological disorder called Joubert syndrome; a condition linked with autism spectrum disorders and brain structure malformations.

The study was published online on Nov. 12, 2012 by the journal Developmental Cell.

"We were trying to understand how neurons get to the right place at the right time during brain development," said senior study author Eva Anton, PhD, a professor in the UNC Neuroscience Center and the Department of Cell Biology and Physiology at the UNC School of Medicine.

To do that, the UNC researchers and their collaborator, Dr. Tamara Caspary, at Emory University tracked brain development in mice with and without a gene called Arl13b. They found that the gene, when functioning normally, allows interneurons to use an appendage called the primary cilium as a sensor.

These appendages are found on many types of cells, but scientists did not previously know what they were doing on developing neurons.

"We found that primary cilia play an important role in guiding neurons to their appropriate places during development so that the neurons can wire up appropriately later on," said Anton. "It's like an antenna that allows the neuron to read the signals that are out there and navigate to the right target location."

Neurons in mice without the Arl13b gene or expressing mutant Arl13b found in Joubert syndrome patients essentially had a broken antenna, causing the cells to get lost on the way to their destinations.

Variants of the Arl13b gene are known to cause Joubert syndrome, which is characterized by brain malformations, abnormal eye and tongue movements, low muscle tone and mental retardation. This is one of the first studies to uncover how mutations of this gene actually disrupt brain development.

"Ultimately, if you're going to come up with therapeutic solutions, it's important to understand the biology of the disease," said Anton. "This contributes to our understanding of the biological processes that are disrupted in Joubert syndrome patients."

Co-authors include Holden Higginbotham, Tae-Yeon Eom, Amelia Bachleda, Joshua Hirt, Vladimir Gukassyana and Corey Cusack from UNC, Laura E. Mariani and Tamara Caspary of Emory University, and Cary Lai of Indiana University, Bloomington.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by University of North Carolina School of Medicine. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. Holden Higginbotham, Tae-Yeon Eom, LauraE. Mariani, Amelia Bachleda, Joshua Hirt, Vladimir Gukassyan, Corey L. Cusack, Cary Lai, Tamara Caspary, E.S. Anton. Arl13b in Primary Cilia Regulates the Migration and Placement of Interneurons in the Developing Cerebral Cortex. Developmental Cell, 2012; 23 (5): 925 DOI: 10.1016/j.devcel.2012.09.019

Cite This Page:

University of North Carolina School of Medicine. "Watching the developing brain, scientists glean clues on neurological disorder." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 13 November 2012. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/11/121113122133.htm>.
University of North Carolina School of Medicine. (2012, November 13). Watching the developing brain, scientists glean clues on neurological disorder. ScienceDaily. Retrieved July 30, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/11/121113122133.htm
University of North Carolina School of Medicine. "Watching the developing brain, scientists glean clues on neurological disorder." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/11/121113122133.htm (accessed July 30, 2014).

Share This




More Health & Medicine News

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Generics Eat Into Pfizer's Sales

Generics Eat Into Pfizer's Sales

Reuters - Business Video Online (July 29, 2014) Pfizer, the world's largest drug maker, cut full-year revenue forecasts because generics could cut into sales of its anti-arthritis drug, Celebrex. Fred Katayama reports. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
Nigeria Ups Ebola Stakes on 1st Death

Nigeria Ups Ebola Stakes on 1st Death

Reuters - Business Video Online (July 29, 2014) Nigerian authorities have shut and quarantined a Lagos hospital where a Liberian man died of the Ebola virus, the first recorded case of the highly-infectious disease in Africa's most populous economy. David Pollard reports Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
Running 5 Minutes A Day Might Add Years To Your Life

Running 5 Minutes A Day Might Add Years To Your Life

Newsy (July 29, 2014) According to a new study, just five minutes of running or jogging a day could add years to your life. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Ebola Outbreak Poses Little Threat To U.S.: CDC

Ebola Outbreak Poses Little Threat To U.S.: CDC

Newsy (July 29, 2014) The Ebola outbreak in West Africa poses little threat to Americans, according to officials with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. 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