Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Unprecedented 3-D view of important brain receptor

Date:
June 27, 2014
Source:
Oregon Health & Science University
Summary:
Researchers have given science a new and unprecedented 3-D view of one of the most important receptors in the brain -- a receptor that allows us to learn and remember, and whose dysfunction is involved in a wide range of neurological diseases and conditions, including Alzheimer's, Parkinson's, schizophrenia and depression.

X-ray crystal structure of the NMDA receptor showing its mushroom- like shape, with receptor subunits in different colors.
Credit: Image courtesy of Oregon Health & Science University

Researchers with Oregon Health & Science University's Vollum Institute have given science a new and unprecedented 3-D view of one of the most important receptors in the brain -- a receptor that allows us to learn and remember, and whose dysfunction is involved in a wide range of neurological diseases and conditions, including Alzheimer's, Parkinson's, schizophrenia and depression.

Related Articles


The unprecedented view provided by the OHSU research, published online June 22 in the journal Nature, gives scientists new insight into how the receptor -- called the NMDA receptor -- is structured. And importantly, the new detailed view gives vital clues to developing drugs to combat the neurological diseases and conditions.

"This is the most exciting moment of my career," said Eric Gouaux, a senior scientist at the Vollum Institute and a Howard Hughes Medical Institute investigator. "The NMDA receptor is one of the most essential, and still sometimes mysterious, receptors in our brain. Now, with this work, we can see it in fascinating detail."

Receptors facilitate chemical and electrical signals between neurons in the brain, allowing those neurons to communicate with each other. The NMDA (N-methyl-D-aspartate) receptor is one of the most important brain receptors, as it facilitates neuron communication that is the foundation of memory, learning and thought. Malfunction of the NMDA receptor occurs when it is increasingly or decreasingly active and is associated with a wide range of neurological disorders and diseases. Alzheimer's disease, Parkinson's disease, depression, schizophrenia and epilepsy are, in many instances, linked to problems with NMDA activity.

Scientists across the world study the NMDA receptor; some of the most notable discoveries about the receptor during the past three decades have been made by OHSU Vollum scientists.

The NMDA receptor makeup includes receptor "subunits" -- all of which have distinct properties and act in distinct ways in the brain, sometimes causing neurological problems. Prior to Gouaux's study, scientists had only a limited view of how those subtypes were arranged in the NMDA receptor complex and how they interacted to carry out specific functions within the brain and central nervous system.

Gouaux's team of scientists -- Chia-Hsueh Lee, Wei Lu, Jennifer Michel, April Goehring, Juan Du and Xianqiang Song -- created a 3-D model of the NMDA receptor through a process called X-ray crystallography. This process throws x-ray beams at crystals of the receptor; a computer calibrates the makeup of the structure based on how those x-ray beams bounce off the crystals. The resulting 3-D model of the receptor, which looks something like a bouquet of flowers, shows where the receptor subunits are located, and gives unprecedented insight into their actions.

"This new detailed view will be invaluable as we try to develop drugs that might work on specific subunits and therefore help fight or cure some of these neurological diseases and conditions," Gouaux said. "Seeing the structure in more detail can unlock some of its secrets -- and may help a lot of people."


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Oregon Health & Science University. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. Chia-Hsueh Lee, Wei Lü, Jennifer Carlisle Michel, April Goehring, Juan Du, Xianqiang Song, Eric Gouaux. NMDA receptor structures reveal subunit arrangement and pore architecture. Nature, 2014; DOI: 10.1038/nature13548

Cite This Page:

Oregon Health & Science University. "Unprecedented 3-D view of important brain receptor." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 27 June 2014. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/06/140627150014.htm>.
Oregon Health & Science University. (2014, June 27). Unprecedented 3-D view of important brain receptor. ScienceDaily. Retrieved April 21, 2015 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/06/140627150014.htm
Oregon Health & Science University. "Unprecedented 3-D view of important brain receptor." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/06/140627150014.htm (accessed April 21, 2015).

Share This


More From ScienceDaily



More Health & Medicine News

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Teva Offers $40 Billion for Mylan

Teva Offers $40 Billion for Mylan

Reuters - Business Video Online (Apr. 21, 2015) — Generic drugmaker Teva Pharmaceutical is offering $82 a share, or $40 billion, for its smaller rival Mylan, in an alternative to Mylan&apos;s deal to buy Perrigo. Bobbi Rebell reports. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
Blue Bell Recalls All Products

Blue Bell Recalls All Products

AP (Apr. 21, 2015) — Blue Bell Creameries voluntary recalled for all of its products after two samples of chocolate chip cookie dough ice cream tested positive for listeria, a potentially deadly bacteria. Blue Bell&apos;s President and CEO issued a video statement. (April 21) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Yemen Doctors at Breaking Point

Yemen Doctors at Breaking Point

Reuters - News Video Online (Apr. 21, 2015) — A Sanaa hospital struggles to cope with the high number of casualties with severe injuries, after an air strike left at least 25 dead and hundreds wounded. Deborah Lutterbeck reports. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
'Tutu Tuesdays' Brighten Faces at Kids' Hospital

'Tutu Tuesdays' Brighten Faces at Kids' Hospital

AP (Apr. 21, 2015) — Doctors and nurses have started wearing ballet tutus every Tuesday to cheer up young hospital patients at a Florida hospital. It started with a request made by a nervous patient -- now, almost the entire staff is wearing the tutus. (April 21) 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