'Stoned' gene key to maintaining normal brain function

July 6, 2012
Dr Stephen Royle: “This research is another step towards fully understanding the complexities of the human brain.”

(Medical Xpress) -- Scientists at the University of Liverpool have found that a protein produced by a gene identified in fruitflies, is responsible for communication between nerve cells in the brain.

The ‘stoned’ gene was discovered in fruitflies by scientists in the 1970s. When this gene was mutated, the flies had problems walking and flying, giving rise to the term ‘stoned’ gene. The same gene was found in mammals some years later, but until now scientists have not known precisely what this gene is responsible for and why it causes problems with physical functions when it mutates.

‘Packets of chemicals’

Scientists at Liverpool have found that the protein the gene expresses in mammals, called stonin2, is responsible for retrieving ‘packets’ of chemicals that in the brain release in order to communicate with each other.  The inability of the gene to express this protein in the fruitfly study, suggests why the insect appeared not to be able to walk or fly normally.

The team used advanced techniques to inactivate stonin2 for short and long periods of time in animal cells grown in the laboratory. The cells used where from an area of the brain associated with learning and memory.  They showed that without stonin2 the nerve cells could not retrieve the ‘packets’ needed to transport the chemicals required for communications between nerve cells.

Dr Stephen Royle, from the University’s Institute of Translational Medicine, explains: “Nerve cells in the brain communicate by releasing ‘packets’ of chemicals.  These ‘packets’ must be retrieved and refilled with chemicals so that they can be used once again. This recycling programme is very important for nerve cells to keep communicating with each other. 

“We have shown that a protein called stonin 2 is needed for the packets to be retrieved. There is currently no evidence to suggest that the gene which expresses this is mutated in human disease, but any failure in its function would be disastrous.  The research is another step towards fully understanding the complexities of the human .”

The research is published in the journal, Current Biology.

Explore further: Gene 'switch' is another possible cause for depression

More information: www.cell.com/current-biology/a … 0960-9822(12)00635-5

Related Stories

Gene 'switch' is another possible cause for depression

March 6, 2012
(Medical Xpress) -- UK scientists have discovered another piece in the jigsaw behind depression with a finding that could help with the future development of more personalised treatment for the illness.

Scientists expose important new weak spot in cancer cells

December 5, 2011
(Medical Xpress) -- Cancer Research UK scientists have discovered that cancer cells can ‘bag up and bin’ a toxic protein to cheat death – revealing a new Achilles heel in cancer cells that could be targeted ...

Gene gives cells a 'safety belt' against genetic damage

March 22, 2012
(Medical Xpress) -- Researchers at King’s College London have identified a gene which offers cells a ‘safety belt’ against genetic damage by stopping them dividing at the wrong time.

Prostate cancer early warning protein detected

May 31, 2012
(Medical Xpress) -- Scientists at the University have discovered a protein, only present in prostate cancer cells, that could be used as a marker to detect early signs of the disease.     

Brain cells created from patients' skin cells

February 7, 2012
(Medical Xpress) -- Cambridge scientists have, for the first time, created cerebral cortex cells – those that make up the brain’s grey matter – from a small sample of human skin.  The researchers’ ...

Study shows how cannabis use during adolescence affects brain regions associated with schizophrenia

May 8, 2012
New research from the Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland (RCSI) published in Nature’s Neuropsychopharmacology has shown physical changes to exist in specific brain areas implicated in schizophrenia following the use ...

Recommended for you

Inflammation trains the skin to heal faster

October 18, 2017
Scars may fade, but the skin remembers. New research from The Rockefeller University reveals that wounds or other harmful, inflammation-provoking experiences impart long-lasting memories to stem cells residing in the skin, ...

Large variety of microbial communities found to live along female reproductive tract

October 18, 2017
(Medical Xpress)—A large team of researchers from China (and one each from Norway and Denmark) has found that the female reproductive tract is host to a far richer microbial community than has been thought. In their paper ...

Study of what makes cells resistant to radiation could improve cancer treatments

October 18, 2017
A Johns Hopkins University biologist is part of a research team that has demonstrated a way to size up a cell's resistance to radiation, a step that could eventually help improve cancer treatments.

New approach helps rodents with spinal cord injury breathe on their own

October 17, 2017
One of the most severe consequences of spinal cord injury in the neck is losing the ability to control the diaphragm and breathe on one's own. Now, investigators show for the first time in laboratory models that two different ...

Pair of discoveries illuminate new paths to flu and anthrax treatments

October 17, 2017
Two recent studies led by biologists at the University of California San Diego have set the research groundwork for new avenues to treat influenza and anthrax poisoning.

New method to measure how drugs interact

October 17, 2017
Cancer, HIV and tuberculosis are among the many serious diseases that are frequently treated with combinations of three or more drugs, over months or even years. Developing the most effective therapies for such diseases requires ...

0 comments

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.