Collaboration between crucial proteins in signal transmission clarified

Collaboration between crucial proteins in signal transmission clarified
Receptor uptake and reclycling. Credit: Nicky Scheefhals/ Utrecht University

Researchers from Utrecht University have clarified the function of proteins that play a role in signal transmission between neurons. Without these proteins, it is more difficult to pass on nerve stimuli, which may play a role in neurological disorders such as autism. The researchers will publish their findings in Cell Reports on 8 October.

Neurons communicate with one another via synapses, the contact site between two neurons where the signal is transferred from the axon to the receiving dendrite. The axon sends the signal by releasing filled with the . The neurotransmitters then activate the at the postsynaptic density on the receiving dendrite. With this, the signal is transferred and initiates a signal cascade in the receiving neuron. However, in order to prevent overstimulation in the receiving neuron, it is important that the activated receptors are rapidly deactivated.

Recycling

Researchers in Utrecht have now published an article in Cell Reports explaining how this process works. The deactivation of the receptors takes place in the endocytic zone, an area for the uptake and recycling of glutamate receptors (mGluR5). The protein Shank plays a crucial role in this process. "Shank works like an anchor that holds together the postsynaptic density and the endocytic zone", explains first author Nicky Scheefhals of Utrecht University. "When we remove Shank, the recycle centre is disconnected, resulting in the mis-sorting of receptors and fewer receptors are recycled to the postsynaptic density." As a result, it is more difficult to transfer nerve stimuli.

Collaboration between crucial proteins in signal transmission clarified
Receptor uptake and reclycling. Credit: Nicky Scheefhals/ Utrecht University

Autism

The balance in the uptake and recycling of receptors is crucial for the proper communication between . "If there are too many or too few receptors, then it could result in neurological disorders", says last author Harold MacGillavry of Utrecht University. The protein Shank had already been associated with autism, but scientists previously thought that Shank formed an 'anchor' in another way than the researchers demonstrate in this research. Until now, medicines that bind to the receptors have had only limited success. "Clarifying the precise mechanism is vital for the development of medicines that intervene in this process. And thanks to this research, we're now a step closer towards reaching this goal."


Explore further

Signal peptides' novel role in glutamate receptor trafficking and neural synaptic activity

More information: Nicky Scheefhals et al. Shank Proteins Couple the Endocytic Zone to the Postsynaptic Density to Control Trafficking and Signaling of Metabotropic Glutamate Receptor 5, Cell Reports (2019). DOI: 10.1016/j.celrep.2019.08.102
Journal information: Cell Reports

Provided by Utrecht University
Citation: Collaboration between crucial proteins in signal transmission clarified (2019, October 9) retrieved 19 October 2019 from https://medicalxpress.com/news/2019-10-collaboration-crucial-proteins-transmission.html
This document is subject to copyright. Apart from any fair dealing for the purpose of private study or research, no part may be reproduced without the written permission. The content is provided for information purposes only.
27 shares

Feedback to editors

User comments

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