Navigation Links
A*STAR scientists discover protein's role in human memory and learning functions

1. Scientists at A*STAR's Institute of Molecular and Cell Biology (IMCB) have identified the precise role of the protein, SNX27, in the pathway leading to memory and learning impairment. The study broadens the understanding of the brain's memory function and could be used to explain defects in the cognitive development of those with Down's syndrome. The newly established knowledge could potentially facilitate exploration of strategies to improve memory and learning abilities in Down's syndrome.

2. Down's syndrome is a genetic condition characterized by the presence of an additional copy of chromosome 21. About one in eight hundred new-borns is diagnosed with Down's syndrome. It is a condition that leads to impairments in both cognitive ability and physical growth that range from mild to moderate developmental disabilities. Yet, there is still no treatment for it.

3. In an earlier study published in Nature Medicine, an international team of scientists discovered that the additional copy of chromosome 21 in Down's syndrome reduces the production of SNX27 in the brain and results in synaptic dysfunction. Synapse, a structure that permits nerve cells to pass chemical signals to each other, is known to have an important role in memory formation and its dysfunction could result in impairment. By re-introducing SNX27 into the brain, memory could be restored hence suggesting that SNX27 is an essential protein for memory and learning.

4. The protein's role in the pathway leading to memory impairment, however, remained unclear until scientists from IMCB utilised live-cell imaging techniques to elucidate the mechanism of memory impairment and illustrated how SNX27 attributes to synaptic dysfunction. The scientists observed that transmission of chemical signals between the nerve cells are facilitated by AMPA-receptors and the activity occurs on the brain cell surface. As SNX27 plays an important role in shuttling the AMPA-receptor to the brain cell surface, lower levels of SNX27 means fewer receptors are carried to the surface, which consequently interrupts the signal transmission and impairs memory. This discovery was reported in the 24 January, 2014 issue of the renowned scientific journal, Nature Communications.

5. The correlation established between SNX27 levels and memory could explain why individuals with Down's syndrome encounter memory and learning difficulties. Identifying the target and its role is a crucial first step to therapy having known the role of SNX27 in memory impairment, future research on Down's syndrome could focus on developing strategies which can effectively re-introduce the protein into the brain to restore memory and learning abilities.

6. Dr Loo Li Shen was an A*STAR scholar who is now working with Executive Director of IMCB, Prof Wanjin Hong, and is also an adjunct Assistant Professor at LKC medical school of NTU. The lead author of the Nature Communications paper and co-author of the Nature Medicine paper said, "Memory and the ability to learn capture the essence of life. Our research goes beyond the lab to make a difference by finding ways to grant these fundamental capabilities to those diagnosed with Down's syndrome. Our ultimate goal is to create a positive impact on the lives of these valuable children."

7. Prof Hong added, "In IMCB, we conduct research that would contribute to our understanding of mankind. This is a good example where the study is directed at a human condition - the Down's syndrome. The knowledge established from the findings could potentially translate into treatments for Down's syndrome or even become applicable to other similar human conditions."


Contact: Tan Yun Yun
Biomedical Sciences Institutes (BMSI)

Related biology news :

1. Breakthroughs in Chikungunya research from A*STAR spell new hope for better treatment and protection
2. A*STAR scientists discover potential drug for deadly brain cancer
3. A*STAR scientists solve century-old mystery by finding stable haploid strains of Candida albicans
4. A*STAR scientists groundbreaking discovery of nucleus structure crucial to understanding diseases
5. A*STAR scientists discover novel hormone essential for heart development
6. A*STAR signs agreement with Nestlé to strengthen food & nutrition R&D in Singapore
7. Stanford scientists develop gene therapy approach to grow blood vessels in ischemic limbs
8. Queens scientists seek vaccine for Pseudomonas infection
9. Scientists produce eye structures from human blood-derived stem cells
10. American Society of Plant Biologists honors early career women scientists
11. Brandeis scientists win prestigious prize for circadian rhythms research
Post Your Comments:
(Date:4/15/2016)... 15, 2016 Research and ... Biometrics Market 2016-2020,"  report to their offering.  , ... , ,The global gait biometrics market is expected ... the period 2016-2020. Gait analysis generates ... be used to compute factors that are not ...
(Date:4/13/2016)... 13, 2016  IMPOWER physicians supporting Medicaid patients in ... new clinical standard in telehealth thanks to a new ... higi platform, IMPOWER patients can routinely track key health ... mass index, and, when they opt in, share them ... to a local retail location at no cost. By ...
(Date:3/31/2016)... , March 31, 2016  Genomics firm Nabsys has ... CEO, Barrett Bready , M.D., who returned to ... the original technical leadership team, including Chief Technology Officer, ... Product Development, Steve Nurnberg and Vice President of Software ... the company. Dr. Bready served as CEO ...
Breaking Biology News(10 mins):
(Date:6/27/2016)... , June 27, 2016   Ginkgo Bioworks ... to industrial engineering, was today awarded as one ... selection of the world,s most innovative companies. Ginkgo ... scale for the real world in the nutrition, ... engineers work directly with customers including Fortune 500 ...
(Date:6/23/2016)... ... June 23, 2016 , ... Mosio, ... second eBook, “Clinical Trials Patient Recruitment and Retention Tips.” Partnering with experienced clinical ... eBook by providing practical tips, tools, and strategies for clinical researchers. , “The ...
(Date:6/23/2016)... -- Houston Methodist Willowbrook Hospital has signed a ... serve as their official health care provider. As ... provide sponsorship support, athletic training services, and most ... athletes and families. "We are excited ... to bring Houston Methodist quality services and programs ...
(Date:6/23/2016)... ... ... Supplyframe, the Industry Network for electronics hardware design and ... in Pasadena, Calif., the Design Lab’s mission is to bring together inventors and ... brought to market. , The Design Lab is Supplyframe’s physical representation of one ...
Breaking Biology Technology: