Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Gene found to foster synapse formation in the brain

Date:
October 31, 2013
Source:
Johns Hopkins Medicine
Summary:
Researchers say they have found that a gene already implicated in human speech disorders and epilepsy is also needed for vocalizations and synapse formation in mice. The finding, they say, adds to scientific understanding of how language develops, as well as the way synapses — the connections among brain cells that enable us to think — are formed.

This is a fluorescence image of a neuron labeled for synapses (green) and cell structure (magenta).
Credit: Yoichi Araki

Researchers at Johns Hopkins say they have found that a gene already implicated in human speech disorders and epilepsy is also needed for vocalizations and synapse formation in mice. The finding, they say, adds to scientific understanding of how language develops, as well as the way synapses — the connections among brain cells that enable us to think — are formed. A description of their experiments appears in Science Express on Oct. 31.

Related Articles


A group led by Richard Huganir, Ph.D., director of the Solomon H. Snyder Department of Neuroscience and a Howard Hughes Medical Institute investigator, set out to investigate genes involved in synapse formation. Gek-Ming Sia, Ph.D., a research associate in Huganir’s laboratory, first screened hundreds of human genes for their effects on lab-grown mouse brain cells. When one gene, SRPX2, was turned up higher than normal, it caused the brain cells to erupt with new synapses, Sia found.

When Huganir’s team injected fetal mice with an SRPX2-blocking compound, the mice showed fewer synapses than normal mice even as adults, the researchers found. In addition, when SRPX2-deficient mouse pups were separated from their mothers, they did not emit high-pitched distress calls as other pups do, indicating they lacked the rodent equivalent of early language ability.

Other researchers’ analyses of the human genome have found that mutations in SRPX2 are associated with language disorders and epilepsy, and when Huganir’s team injected the human SRPX2 with the same mutations into the fetal mice, they also had deficits in their vocalization as young pups.

Another research group at Institut de Neurobiologie de la Mιditerranιe in France had previously shown that SRPX2 interacts with FoxP2, a gene that has gained wide attention for its apparently crucial role in language ability. Huganir’s team confirmed this, showing that FoxP2 controls how much protein the SRPX2 gene makes and may affect language in this way. “FoxP2 is famous for its role in language, but it’s actually involved in other functions as well,” Huganir comments. “SRPX2 appears to be more specialized to language ability.” Huganir suspects that the gene may also be involved in autism, since autistic patients often have language impairments, and the condition has been linked to defects in synapse formation.

This study is only the beginning of teasing out how SRPX2 acts on the brain, Sia says. “We’d like to find out what other proteins it acts on, and how exactly it regulates synapses and enables language development.”

Roger Clem of the Mount Sinai School of Medicine also participated in the study.

This study was supported by the National Institute of Mental Health (grant number P50MH084020) and the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke (grant number NS050274).


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Johns Hopkins Medicine. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. G. M. Sia, R. L. Clem, and R. L. Huganir. The Human Language–Associated Gene SRPX2 Regulates Synapse Formation and Vocalization in Mice. Science, 31 October 2013 DOI: 10.1126/science.1245079

Cite This Page:

Johns Hopkins Medicine. "Gene found to foster synapse formation in the brain." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 31 October 2013. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/10/131031142655.htm>.
Johns Hopkins Medicine. (2013, October 31). Gene found to foster synapse formation in the brain. ScienceDaily. Retrieved November 27, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/10/131031142655.htm
Johns Hopkins Medicine. "Gene found to foster synapse formation in the brain." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/10/131031142655.htm (accessed November 27, 2014).

Share This


More From ScienceDaily



More Mind & Brain News

Thursday, November 27, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Are Female Bosses More Likely To Be Depressed?

Are Female Bosses More Likely To Be Depressed?

Newsy (Nov. 24, 2014) — A new study links greater authority with increased depressive symptoms among women in the workplace. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Winter Can Cause Depression — Here's How To Combat It

Winter Can Cause Depression — Here's How To Combat It

Newsy (Nov. 23, 2014) — Millions of American suffer from seasonal depression every year. It can lead to adverse health effects, but there are ways to ease symptoms. Video provided by Newsy
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
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