Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Botox used to find new wrinkle in brain communication

Date:
May 2, 2013
Source:
NIH/National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke
Summary:
Researchers have used the popular anti-wrinkle agent Botox to discover a new and important role for a group of molecules that nerve cells use to quickly send messages. This novel role for the molecules, called SNARES, may be a missing piece that scientists have been searching for to fully understand how brain cells communicate under normal and disease conditions.

SNARE proteins (red, green and blue objects) are molecules found at most synapses throughout the body. They are known for their role in helping nerve cells send messages by releasing neurotransmitters. Dr. Wu and his colleagues used Botox and similar toxins to show that SNARES may also be important for retrieving synaptic message carriers.
Credit: NINDS

National Institutes of Health researchers used the popular anti-wrinkle agent Botox to discover a new and important role for a group of molecules that nerve cells use to quickly send messages. This novel role for the molecules, called SNARES, may be a missing piece that scientists have been searching for to fully understand how brain cells communicate under normal and disease conditions.

Related Articles


"The results were very surprising," said Ling-Gang Wu, Ph.D., a scientist at NIH's National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke. "Like many scientists we thought SNAREs were only involved in fusion."

Every day almost 100 billion nerve cells throughout the body send thousands of messages through nearly 100 trillion communication points called synapses. Cell-to-cell communication at synapses controls thoughts, movements, and senses and could provide therapeutic targets for a number of neurological disorders, including epilepsy.

Nerve cells use chemicals, called neurotransmitters, to rapidly send messages at synapses. Like pellets inside shotgun shells, neurotransmitters are stored inside spherical membranes, called synaptic vesicles. Messages are sent when a carrier shell fuses with the nerve cell's own shell, called the plasma membrane, and releases the neurotransmitter "pellets" into the synapse.

SNAREs (soluble N-ethylmaleimide-sensitive factor attachment protein receptor) are three proteins known to be critical for fusion between carrier shells and nerve cell membranes during neurotransmitter release.

"Without SNAREs there is no synaptic transmission," said Dr. Wu.

Botulinum toxin, or Botox, disrupts SNAREs. In a study published in Cell Reports, Dr. Wu and his colleagues describe how they used Botox and similar toxins as tools to show that SNAREs may also be involved in retrieving message carrier shells from nerve cell membranes immediately after release.

To study this, the researchers used advanced electrical recording techniques to directly monitor in real time carrier shells being fused with and retrieved from nerve cell membranes while the cells sent messages at synapses. The experiments were performed on a unique synapse involved with hearing called the calyx of Held. As expected, treating the synapses with toxins reduced fusion. However Dr. Wu and his colleagues also noticed that the toxins reduced retrieval.

"The results were very surprising," said Dr. Wu. "Like many scientists we thought SNAREs were only involved in fusion."

For at least a decade scientists have known that carrier shells have to be retrieved before more messages can be sent. Retrieval occurs in two modes: fast and slow. A different group of molecules are known to control the slow mode.

"Until now most scientists thought fusion and retrieval were two separate processes controlled by different sets of molecules," said Dr. Wu.

Nevertheless several studies suggested that one of the SNARE molecules could be involved with both modes.

In this study, Dr. Wu and his colleagues systematically tested this idea to fully understand retrieval. The results showed that all three SNARE proteins may be involved in both fast and slow retrieval.

"Our results suggest that SNAREs link fusion and retrieval," said Dr. Wu.

The results may have broad implications. SNAREs are commonly used by other cells throughout the body to release chemicals. For example, SNAREs help control the release of insulin from pancreas cells, making them a potential target for diabetes treatments. Recent studies suggest that SNAREs may be involved in neurological and psychiatric disorders, such as schizophrenia and spastic ataxia.

"We think SNARES work like this in most nerve cell synapses. This new role could change the way scientists think about how SNAREs are involved in neuronal communication and diseases," said Dr. Wu.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by NIH/National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. Xu J et al. SNARE proteins synaptobrevin, SNAP-25 and syntaxin are involved in rapid and slow endocytosis at synapses. Cell Reports, May 2, 2013 DOI: 10.1016/j.cellrep.2013.03.010

Cite This Page:

NIH/National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke. "Botox used to find new wrinkle in brain communication." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 2 May 2013. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/05/130502131905.htm>.
NIH/National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke. (2013, May 2). Botox used to find new wrinkle in brain communication. ScienceDaily. Retrieved December 19, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/05/130502131905.htm
NIH/National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke. "Botox used to find new wrinkle in brain communication." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/05/130502131905.htm (accessed December 19, 2014).

Share This


More From ScienceDaily



More Health & Medicine News

Friday, December 19, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

The Best Tips to Curb Holiday Carbs

The Best Tips to Curb Holiday Carbs

Buzz60 (Dec. 19, 2014) It's hard to resist those delicious but fattening carbs we all crave during the winter months, but there are some ways to stay satisfied without consuming the extra calories. Vanessa Freeman (@VanessaFreeTV) has the details. Video provided by Buzz60
Powered by NewsLook.com
Sierra Leone Bikers Spread the Message to Fight Ebola

Sierra Leone Bikers Spread the Message to Fight Ebola

AFP (Dec. 19, 2014) More than 100 motorcyclists hit the road to spread awareness messages about Ebola. Nearly 7,000 people have now died from the virus, almost all of them in west Africa, according to the World Health Organization. Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Researchers Test Colombian Village With High Alzheimer's Rates

Researchers Test Colombian Village With High Alzheimer's Rates

AFP (Dec. 19, 2014) In Yarumal, a village in N. Colombia, Alzheimer's has ravaged a disproportionately large number of families. A genetic "curse" that may pave the way for research on how to treat the disease that claims a new victim every four seconds. Duration: 02:42 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Kids Die While Under Protective Services

Kids Die While Under Protective Services

AP (Dec. 18, 2014) As part of a six-month investigation of child maltreatment deaths, the AP found that hundreds of deaths from horrific abuse and neglect could have been prevented. AP's Haven Daley reports. (Dec. 18) 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