Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

New light shed on nerve cell growth

Date:
July 10, 2014
Source:
Scripps Research Institute
Summary:
New light has been shed on the complex processes of nerve cell growth, showing that a particular protein plays a far more sophisticated role in neuron development than previously thought. Specifically, the research sheds light on the role of RPM-1 in the development of axons or nerve fibers -- the elongated projections of nerve cells that transmit electrical impulses away from the neuron via synapses. Some axons are quite long; in the sciatic nerve, axons run from the base of the spine to the big toe.

Amidst the astounding complexity of the billions of nerve cells and trillions of synaptic connections in the brain, how do nerve cells decide how far to grow or how many connections to build? How do they coordinate these events within the developing brain?

In a new study, scientists from the Florida campus of The Scripps Research Institute (TSRI) have shed new light on these complex processes, showing that a particular protein plays a far more sophisticated role in neuron development than previously thought.

The study, published in the journal PLOS Genetics, focuses on the large, intracellular signaling protein RPM-1 that is expressed in the nervous system. TSRI Assistant Professor Brock Grill and his team show the surprising degree to which RPM-1 harnesses sophisticated mechanisms to regulate neuron development.

Specifically, the research sheds light on the role of RPM-1 in the development of axons or nerve fibers -- the elongated projections of nerve cells that transmit electrical impulses away from the neuron via synapses. Some axons are quite long; in the sciatic nerve, axons run from the base of the spine to the big toe.

"Collectively, our recent work offers significant evidence that RPM-1 coordinates how long an axon grows with construction of synaptic connections," said Grill. "Understanding how these two developmental processes are coordinated at the molecular level is extremely challenging. We've now made significant progress."

Putting Together the Pieces

The study describes how RPM-1 regulates the activity of a single protein known as DLK-1, a protein that regulates neuron development and plays an essential role in axon regeneration. RPM-1 uses PPM-2, an enzyme that removes a phosphate group from a protein thereby altering its function, in combination with ubiquitin ligase activity to directly inhibit DLK-1.

"Studies on RPM-1 have been critical to understanding how this conserved family of proteins works," said Scott T. Baker, the first author of the study and a member of Grill's research team. "Because RPM-1 plays multiple roles during neuronal development, you wouldn't want to interfere with it. But exploring the role of PPM-2 in controlling DLK-1 and axon regeneration could be worthwhile -- and could have implications in neurodegenerative diseases."

The Grill lab has also explored other aspects of how RPM-1 regulates neuron development. A related study, also published in PLOS Genetics, shows that RPM-1 functions as a part of a novel pathway to control β-catenin activity -- this is the first evidence that RPM-1 works in connection with extracellular signals, such as a family of protein growth factors known as Wnts, and is part of larger signaling networks that regulate development. A paper in the journal Neural Development shows that RPM-1 is localized at both the synapse and the mature axon tip, evidence that RPM-1 is positioned to potentially coordinate the construction of synapses with regulation of axon extension and termination.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Scripps Research Institute. The original article was written by Eric Sauter and Mika Ono. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal References:

  1. Karla J Opperman, Brock Grill. RPM-1 is localized to distinct subcellular compartments and regulates axon length in GABAergic motor neurons. Neural Development, 2014; 9 (1): 10 DOI: 10.1186/1749-8104-9-10
  2. Erik D. Tulgren, Shane M. Turgeon, Karla J. Opperman, Brock Grill. The Nesprin Family Member ANC-1 Regulates Synapse Formation and Axon Termination by Functioning in a Pathway with RPM-1 and β-Catenin. PLoS Genetics, 2014; 10 (7): e1004481 DOI: 10.1371/journal.pgen.1004481
  3. Scott T. Baker, Karla J. Opperman, Erik D. Tulgren, Shane M. Turgeon, Willy Bienvenut, Brock Grill. RPM-1 Uses Both Ubiquitin Ligase and Phosphatase-Based Mechanisms to Regulate DLK-1 during Neuronal Development. PLoS Genetics, 2014; 10 (5): e1004297 DOI: 10.1371/journal.pgen.1004297

Cite This Page:

Scripps Research Institute. "New light shed on nerve cell growth." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 10 July 2014. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/07/140710161259.htm>.
Scripps Research Institute. (2014, July 10). New light shed on nerve cell growth. ScienceDaily. Retrieved September 29, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/07/140710161259.htm
Scripps Research Institute. "New light shed on nerve cell growth." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/07/140710161259.htm (accessed September 29, 2014).

Share This



More Health & Medicine News

Monday, September 29, 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
Why Is Big Tobacco Voluntarily Warning You About E-Cigs?

Why Is Big Tobacco Voluntarily Warning You About E-Cigs?

Newsy (Sep. 29, 2014) Big tobacco companies are voluntarily printing health warnings on their e-cigarette packages — a move some are calling part of a PR strategy. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Why Pediatricians Endorse IUDs, Implants For Teens

Why Pediatricians Endorse IUDs, Implants For Teens

Newsy (Sep. 29, 2014) New recommendations from the American Academy of Pediatrics point to intrauterine devices and implants as good forms of birth control for teens. 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