The article published in PNAS shows that mice lacking PC7 also had lower levels of a protein called BDNF, a member of the neurotrophin family, which is composed of proteins that regulate the development, function, and survival of neurons. BDNF is active in the hippocampus and amygdala, and is important for emotional and long-term memory, as well as learning and higher thinking.
"The reduced levels of active BDNF partly explain why the mice exhibited learning and memory impairments," says Dr. Seidah. "Furthermore, when we treated mice with DHF, a chemical that binds to BDNF receptors, we found that BDNF levels were increased and behaviour was normalized," adds Dr. Wetsel.
The results of a second study, published in Nature, demonstrate that a lack of PC7 also results in an excess of dopamine in the brain. Dopamine plays important roles in motivation, cognition and reward, and the dopamine system is associated with several neurological and psychiatric conditions. In this study, bioinformatician Jrmy Besnard from the University of Dundee in the United Kingdom transformed the structure of existing pharmaceutical drugs, already proven to be safe, so they could be used to treat new diseases. He tested his new approach by modifying a drug used against Alzheimer's disease in order to block the action of dopamine in the brain.
"We tested the effects of this new drug on mice lacking PC7, and found it to be succes
|Contact: Julie Langelier|
Institut de recherches cliniques de Montreal