Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Gene linked to disease found to play a critical role in normal memory development

Date:
August 12, 2014
Source:
The Scripps Research Institute
Summary:
It has been more than 20 years since scientists discovered that mutations in the gene huntingtin cause the devastating progressive neurological condition Huntington’s disease, which involves involuntary movements, emotional disturbance and cognitive impairment. Surprisingly little, however, has been known about the gene’s role in normal brain activity. Now, a study shows it plays a critical role in long-term memory.

It has been more than 20 years since scientists discovered that mutations in the gene huntingtin cause the devastating progressive neurological condition Huntington’s disease, which involves involuntary movements, emotional disturbance and cognitive impairment. Surprisingly little, however, has been known about the gene’s role in normal brain activity.

Now, a study from The Scripps Research Institute’s (TSRI’s) Florida campus and Columbia University shows it plays a critical role in long-term memory.

“We found that huntingtin expression levels are necessary for what is known as long-term synaptic plasticity—the ability of the synapses to grow and change—which is critical to the formation of long-term memory,” said TSRI Assistant Professor Sathyanarayanan V. Puthanveettil, who led the study with Nobel laureate Eric Kandel of Columbia University.

In the study, published recently by the journal PLOS ONE, the team identified an equivalent of the human huntingtin protein in the marine snail Aplysia, a widely used animal model in genetic studies, and found that, just like its human counterpart, the protein in Aplysia is widely expressed in neurons throughout the central nervous system.

Using cellular models, the scientists studied what is known as the sensory-to-motor neuron synapse of Aplysia—in this case, gill withdrawal, a defensive move that occurs when the animal is disturbed.

The study found that the expression of messenger RNAs of huntingtin—messenger RNAs are used to produce proteins from instructions coded in genes—is increased by serotonin, a neurotransmitter released during learning in Aplysia. After knocking down production of the huntingtin protein, neurons failed to function normally.

“During the learning, production of the huntingtin mRNAs is increased both in pre- and post-synaptic neurons—that is a new finding,” Puthanveettil said. “And if you block production of the protein either in pre- or post-synaptic neuron, you block formation of memory.”

The findings could have implications for the development of future treatments of Huntington’s disease. While the full biological functions of the huntingtin protein are not yet fully understood, the results caution against a therapeutic approach that attempts to eliminate the protein entirely.

The first author of the study, “Huntingtin Is Critical Both Pre- and Postsynaptically for Long-Term Learning-Related Synaptic Plasticity in Aplysia,” is Yun-Beom Choi of Columbia University. Other authors include Beena M. Kadakkuzha, Xin-An Liu and Komolitdin Akhmedov of TSRI.

The work was supported by the Howard Hughes Medical Institute, the National Institutes of Health (Grant NS053415), the Whitehall Foundation and the State of Florida.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by The Scripps Research Institute. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. Yun-Beom Choi, Beena M. Kadakkuzha, Xin-An Liu, Komolitdin Akhmedov, Eric R. Kandel, Sathyanarayanan V. Puthanveettil. Huntingtin Is Critical Both Pre- and Postsynaptically for Long-Term Learning-Related Synaptic Plasticity in Aplysia. PLoS ONE, 2014; 9 (7): e103004 DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0103004

Cite This Page:

The Scripps Research Institute. "Gene linked to disease found to play a critical role in normal memory development." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 12 August 2014. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/08/140812235302.htm>.
The Scripps Research Institute. (2014, August 12). Gene linked to disease found to play a critical role in normal memory development. ScienceDaily. Retrieved October 20, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/08/140812235302.htm
The Scripps Research Institute. "Gene linked to disease found to play a critical role in normal memory development." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/08/140812235302.htm (accessed October 20, 2014).

Share This



More Mind & Brain News

Monday, October 20, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Court Ruling Means Kids' Online Activity Could Be On Parents

Court Ruling Means Kids' Online Activity Could Be On Parents

Newsy (Oct. 17, 2014) In a ruling attorneys for both sides agreed was a first of its kind, a Georgia appeals court said parents can be held liable for what kids put online. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
The Best Foods To Boost Your Mood

The Best Foods To Boost Your Mood

Buzz60 (Oct. 17, 2014) Feeling down? Reach for the refrigerator, not the medicine cabinet! TC Newman (@PurpleTCNewman) shares some of the best foods to boost your mood. Video provided by Buzz60
Powered by NewsLook.com
You Can Get Addicted To Google Glass, Apparently

You Can Get Addicted To Google Glass, Apparently

Newsy (Oct. 15, 2014) Researchers claim they’ve diagnosed the first example of the disorder in a 31-year-old U.S. Navy serviceman. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
First Confirmed Case Of Google Glass Addiction

First Confirmed Case Of Google Glass Addiction

Buzz60 (Oct. 15, 2014) A Google Glass user was treated for Internet Addiction Disorder caused from overuse of the device. Morgan Manousos (@MorganManousos) has the details on how many hours he spent wearing the glasses, and what his symptoms were. Video provided by Buzz60
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