Think global, act local: New roles for protein synthesis at synapses
(Medical Xpress) -- How do we build a memory in the brain? It is well known that for animals (and humans) new proteins are needed to establish long-term memories. During learning information is stored at the synapses, the junctions connecting nerve cells. Synapses also require new proteins in order to show changes in their strength (synaptic plasticity). Historically, scientists have focused on the cell body as the place where the required proteins are synthesized. However, in recent years there has been increasing focus on the dendrites and axons (the compartments that meet to form synapses) as a potential site for protein synthesis.
Protein synthesis machines have been observed there as well as a limited number of their templates, the messenger RNA molecules. The limited number of mRNAs observed in dendrites and axons placed constraints on the constellation of proteins that could be synthesized to help synapses work and change. Researchers from Erin Schuman's lab at the Max Planck Institute (MPI) for Brain Research used new-generation sequencing to directly identify a very large number (over 2500) of new mRNA molecules that are present at the axons and dendrites. Using high-resolution imaging techniques they were able to both quantify and visualize individual mRNA molecules. They published their findings in the latest issue of Neuron.
This video is not supported by your browser at this time.
Erin Schuman and her colleagues describe how they were able to detect numerous new mRNAs in the processes of neurons with unprecedented sensitivity. Video: Neuron.Using microarray approaches and/or in situ hybridization techniques, many different groups had each identified a hundred or so mRNAs that might reside in the dendrites. By analyzing and comparing these studies the Schuman team discovered something surprising: it seems that not a single mRNA type was found in all three studies. This observation made the scientist at the MPI for Brain Research wonder whether the already discovered mRNAs are just the tip of the iceberg and whether there were many more mRNA molecules waiting to be discovered.
In order to find out the researchers dissected the neuropil layer of the rat hippocampus. This layer comprises a high concentration of axons and dendrites, but lacks the cell bodies of pyramidal neurons (the principal cell type in the hippocampus and other brain areas). By using sensitive high-resolution sequencing techniques, mRNAs could be detected which, due to their lower concentrations, were not discovered before. The researchers found an impressive number of 2550 unique mRNAs present at the dendrites and/or axons. To determine the relative abundance in the neuronal cells, the scientists at Erin Schuman's lab used the Nanostring nCounter, a new technique allowing the high-resolution visualization and quantification of single mRNA molecules. They found that the concentration of mRNAs in the euronal cells varies by three orders of magnitude. Additionally, the researchers were able to classify many of the mRNAs and determine their function in synaptic plasticity. These include signaling molecules, scaffolds and the receptors for neurotransmitter molecules. In addition, many mRNAs coding for protein implicated in diseases like autism were discovered in the dendrites and axons. Finally, by using advanced imaging techniques, the researchers could directly visualize some of the mRNAs in the neuronal dendrites, hundreds of micrometers from the cell body.
These results reveal a previously unappreciated enormous potential for the local protein synthesis machinery to supply, maintain and modify the dendritic and synaptic protein population. It seems that neurons use a local control mechanism much in the same way that modern societies have learned that the most efficient means to distribute goods to the population is to use local distribution centers.
More information: Iván J. Cajigas, Georgi Tushev, Tristan J. Will, Susanne tom Dieck, Nicole Fuerst & Erin M. Schuman, The Local Transcriptome in the Synaptic Neuropil Revealed by Deep Sequencing and High- Resolution Imaging. Neuron 74: 1-14, May 10, 2012
Journal reference: Neuron
Provided by Max Planck Society
- Mechanism may explain aspects of brain impairment seen in Fragile X Syndrome Jun 09, 2008 | not rated yet | 0
- Location, location, location Jul 10, 2008 | not rated yet | 0
- How nerve cells stay in shape Jan 17, 2006 | not rated yet | 0
- What makes an axon an axon? Nov 10, 2008 | not rated yet | 0
- Neurons growing in line Apr 15, 2010 | not rated yet | 0
- Motion perception revisited: High Phi effect challenges established motion perception assumptions Apr 23, 2013 | 3 / 5 (2) | 2
- Anything you can do I can do better: Neuromolecular foundations of the superiority illusion (Update) Apr 02, 2013 | 4.5 / 5 (11) | 5
- The visual system as economist: Neural resource allocation in visual adaptation Mar 30, 2013 | 5 / 5 (2) | 9
- Separate lives: Neuronal and organismal lifespans decoupled Mar 27, 2013 | 4.9 / 5 (8) | 0
- Sizing things up: The evolutionary neurobiology of scale invariance Feb 28, 2013 | 4.8 / 5 (10) | 14
Why is zone 1 in liver more prone to ischemic injury?
May 23, 2013 Hi, Is it because around central vein, there is only deoxygenated blood from the vein where as in the periphery there is hepatic artery. Also why...
How can there be villous adenoma in colon, if there are no villi there
May 22, 2013 As title suggest. Thanks :smile:
How can there be a term called "intestinal metaplasia" of stomach
May 21, 2013 Hello everyone, Ok Stomach's normal epithelium is simple columnar, now in intestinal type of adenocarcinoma of stomach it undergoes "intestinal...
Pressure-volume curve: Elastic Recoil Pressure don't make sense
May 18, 2013 From pressure-volume curve of the lung and chest wall (attached photo), I don't understand why would the elastic recoil pressure of the lung is...
If you became brain-dead, would you want them to pull the plug?
May 17, 2013 I'd want the rest of me to stay alive. Sure it's a lousy way to live but it beats being all-the-way dead. Maybe if I make it 20 years they'll...
MRI bill question
May 15, 2013 Dear PFers, The hospital gave us a $12k bill for one MRI (head with contrast). The people I talked to at the hospital tell me that they do not...
- More from Physics Forums - Medical Sciences
More news stories
New research presented today shows that formation of new neurons in the hippocampus - a brain region known for its importance in learning and remembering - could cause forgetting of old memories by causing a reorganization ...
Neuroscience 12 hours ago | 3.7 / 5 (3) | 0
How can healthy people who hear voices help schizophrenics? Finding the answer for this is at the centre of research conducted at the University of Bergen.
Neuroscience 12 hours ago | 4 / 5 (2) | 2
One of the major frontiers of modern science is a comprehensive understanding of the human brain and its functions to guide the development of new technologies in information and communication. In a major announcement for ...
Neuroscience 13 hours ago | 3 / 5 (2) | 0
(Medical Xpress)—Regulating the distribution of power in neurons is done by a system that makes the national electric grid look simple by comparison. Each neuron has several thousand mitochondria confined ...
Neuroscience May 23, 2013 | 4.9 / 5 (9) | 0 |
(Medical Xpress)—The human brain is able to identify individuals' voices by comparing them against an internal 'average voice' prototype, according to neuroscientists.
Neuroscience May 23, 2013 | 3 / 5 (2) | 3 |
(Medical Xpress)—A new study by researchers in the US has shown that an ancient virus can be modified to help in the fight against the simian immunodeficiency virus SIV, which is the equivalent in monkeys ...
13 hours ago | 5 / 5 (3) | 0 |
Two mutations central to the development of infantile myofibromatosis (IM)—a disorder characterized by multiple tumors involving the skin, bone, and soft tissue—may provide new therapeutic targets, according to researchers ...
7 hours ago | 3 / 5 (2) | 0 |
Women at a particular stage in their monthly menstrual cycle may be more vulnerable to some of the psychological side-effects associated with stressful experiences, according to a study from UCL.
9 hours ago | 5 / 5 (2) | 0 |
Biological processes are generally based on events at the molecular and cellular level. To understand what happens in the course of infections, diseases or normal bodily functions, scientists would need to ...
10 hours ago | 5 / 5 (3) | 0 |
Talking on a hands-free device while behind the wheel can lead to a sharp increase in errors that could imperil other drivers on the road, according to new research from the University of Alberta.
6 hours ago | not rated yet | 0
(Medical Xpress)—Patients with diabetes who are depressed are much more likely to develop episodes of dangerously low blood sugars, or hypoglycemia, than are those who are not depressed, a new study has ...
14 hours ago | not rated yet | 0 |