Identification of a key molecular pathway required for brain neural circuit formation

May 15, 2009

The research group of Dr. Frédéric Charron, a researcher at the Institut de recherches cliniques de Montréal (IRCM), has made a discovery which could help treat spinal cord injuries and neurodegenerative diseases. This new finding has been published in the current issue of the prestigious scientific journal Neuron. Patricia T. Yam, Sébastien D. Langlois and Steves Morin, all at the IRCM, are listed as co-authors.

The brain is composed of billions of interconnected . To correctly form neuronal circuits, the developing axons (a long extension of a neuron) require attractive and repulsive to lead them to their appropriate targets. One such molecule is Sonic Hedgehog (Shh). Five years ago, as a postdoctoral fellow in the laboratory of Dr. Marc Tessier-Lavigne at Stanford University, Frédéric Charron discovered that Shh acted as an axonal attractant for brain and spinal cord neurons. "How exactly Shh elicited this effect has remained unknown so far," pointed out Dr. Charron. "The molecular pathway my team discovered provides part of an answer."

Their recent work showed that Shh exerts its attractive effect through a group of molecules called Src family kinases (SFKs) that, until now, were not known to be linked to Shh function. Remarkably, these novel Shh effector molecules are absolutely required for the ability of Shh to guide axons. Connecting axons with an appropriate set of targets is very complex. Inappropriate wiring or damage to these neuronal connections leads to severe abnormalities of the nervous system. "Knowing the effectors of axon guidance molecules such as Shh", adds Dr. Charron, "helps us to understand the molecular mechanisms by which axons reach their target. It paves the way to new therapies to treat spinal cord injuries, neurodevelopmental disorders, and neurodegenerative diseases."

This new discovery was made possible through the invention of a novel technique to control and observe the behavior of axons in response to guidance molecules. A patent application for this technique has been filed recently. This invention is expected to speed up the discovery of drugs that control axon pathfinding.

"Dr. Charron is one of the country's leading newly arrived neuroscientists. This research has important long-term implications for the repair of spinal cord injury: if we knew all of the molecules required to guide axons correctly during spinal cord healing, we would probably know how to heal spinal cord injuries," says Dr. Rod McInnes, Scientific Director of the Canadian Institutes of Health Research Institute of Genetics. "This is beautiful research that adds another major brick to our building a complete understanding of how the is made, and how injury of it can be treated."

More information: www.cell.com/neuron/abstract/S0896-6273(09)00247-5

Source: Institut de recherches cliniques de Montreal

Related Stories

Recommended for you

What learning looks like in the brain

April 23, 2018
When we learn the connections between neurons strengthen. Addiction or other neurological diseases are linked to abnormally strong connections. But what does learning look like on the cellular and molecular level? How do ...

Multiple sclerosis may be linked to sheep disease toxin

April 23, 2018
Exposure to a toxin primarily found in sheep could be linked to the development of multiple sclerosis (MS) in humans, new research suggests.Carried out by the University of Exeter and MS Sciences Ltd., the study has found ...

How your brain learns to expect mud puddles in the park (and other things)

April 23, 2018
When scientist Thorsten Kahnt was a high school student in Nuremberg, Germany, his friend Christian sported chin-length, curly brown hair. Then one day Christian appeared with newly buzzed hair, only half an inch long.

Animal study connects fear behavior, rhythmic breathing, brain smell center

April 20, 2018
"Take a deep breath" is the mantra of every anxiety-reducing advice list ever written. And for good reason. There's increasing physiological evidence connecting breathing patterns with the brain regions that control mood ...

Mechanism behind neuron death in motor neurone disease and frontotemporal dementia discovered

April 20, 2018
Scientists have identified the molecular mechanism that leads to the death of neurons in amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (also known as ALS or motor neurone disease) and a common form of frontotemporal dementia.

When there's an audience, people's performance improves

April 20, 2018
Often, people think performing in front of others will make them mess up, but a new study led by a Johns Hopkins University neuroscientist found the opposite: being watched makes people do better.

1 comment

Adjust slider to filter visible comments by rank

Display comments: newest first

HenisDov
not rated yet May 17, 2009
Again: Origin of Neural System
Monocells' Community Culture to Multicellular Organisms' Neural System


A. "Identification of a key molecular pathway required for brain neural circuit formation"
http://www.eureka...1509.php


B. From "Life Is Simpler Than They Tell Us"

http://www.articl...144.html

Evolution:
Genes to Genomes to Monocellular to Multicellular Organisms;
Direct Sunlight to Metabolic Energy, Too;
Triptophan to Serotonin to Melatonin to Neural System.

Monocellular Communities to Multicellular Organisms, Monocells' Communities Culture to Multicellular Organisms' Neural System

Dov Henis
(Comments From The 22nd Century)

Life's Manifest
http://www.the-sc...page#578

EVOLUTION Beyond Darwin 200
http://www.the-sc...age#1407

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.