Navigation Links
Flipping a switch on neuron activity
Date:3/7/2011

WASHINGTON, D.C. (March 7, 2011) -- All our daily activities, from driving to work to solving a crossword puzzle, depend on signals carried along the body's vast network of neurons. Propagation of these signals is, in turn, dependent on myriad small molecules within nerve cells -- receptors, ion channels, and transmitters -- turning on and off in complex cascades. Until recently, the study of these molecules in real time has not been possible, but researchers at the University of California at Berkeley and the University of Munich have attached light-sensing modules to neuronal molecules, resulting in molecules that can be turned on and off with simple flashes of light.

"We get millisecond accuracy," says Joshua Levitz, a graduate student at Berkeley and first author of the study. According to Levitz, the "biggest advantage is that we can probe specific receptors in living organisms." Previous methods using pharmacological agents were much less specific, affecting every receptor in every cell. Now, investigators can select individual cells for activation by focusing light. And by attaching light-sensing modules to one class of molecules at a time, they can parse the contributions of individual classes to neuronal behavior.

Levitz will be presenting a system in which G-protein-coupled receptors, molecules that play key roles in transmitting signals within cells, can be selectively activated. He is planning to use the system to study the hippocampus, a region of the brain where memories are formed, stored and maintained. There may be clinical utility to the system as well, he points out. G-protein-coupled receptors are also critical for vision in the retina, and light-sensing versions could potentially be introduced into people with damaged retinas in order to restore sight.


'/>"/>

Contact: Ellen R. Weiss
eweiss@biophysics.org
240-290-5606
American Institute of Physics
Source:Eurekalert

Page: 1

Related biology news :

1. Scientists discover genetic switch that increases muscle blood supply
2. MIT-- parts of brain can switch functions
3. New lignin lite switchgrass boosts biofuel yield by more than one-third
4. Scripps Research study sheds light on RNA on/off switches
5. Scientists find the master switch for key immune cells in inflammatory diseases
6. Scripps Research scientist uncovers switch controlling protein production
7. When their tools get dull, leaf-cutters switch jobs
8. Scientists discover molecular switch that contributes to cellular aging process
9. University of Illinois researchers discover potential new virus in switchgrass
10. Researchers could use plants light switch to control cells
11. NC State develops more precise genetic off switches
Post Your Comments:
*Name:
*Comment:
*Email:
(Date:4/19/2016)... DUBAI , UAE, April 20, 2016 ... can be implemented as a compact web-based "all-in-one" system ... in the biometric fingerprint reader or the door interface ... requirements of modern access control systems. The minimal dimensions ... the ID readers into the building installations offer considerable ...
(Date:3/31/2016)... RATON, Florida , March 31, 2016 ... LEGX ) ("LegacyXChange" or the "Company") ... for potential users of its soon to be launched ... video ( https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCyTLBzmZogV1y2D6bDkBX5g ) will also provide ... the use of DNA technology to an industry that ...
(Date:3/22/2016)... PROVO and SANDY, Utah ... Ontario (NSO), which operates the highest sample volume laboratory ... and Tute Genomics and UNIConnect, leaders in clinical sequencing ... announced the launch of a project to establish the ... panel. NSO has been contracted by ...
Breaking Biology News(10 mins):
(Date:5/26/2016)... and READING, England , May ... http://www.indegene.com ), a leading global provider of clinical, ... and healthcare organisations and TranScrip ( http://www.transcrip-partners.com ), ... throughout the product lifecycle, today announced the extension ... IntraScience.      (Logo: http://photos.prnewswire.com/prnh/20141208/720248 ...
(Date:5/26/2016)... ... May 26, 2016 , ... FireflySci has been manufacturing quartz ... all over the globe. Their cute firefly logo has been spreading to more ... makes spectrophotometer calibration standards that never require recalibration. These revolutionary standards have ...
(Date:5/25/2016)... ... May 25, 2016 , ... ... issued by the Office of the National Coordinator for Health IT (ONC) outlining ... if clinically relevant data were available when and where it was needed. The ...
(Date:5/24/2016)... ... May 24, 2016 , ... Cell therapies ... will be accelerated by research at Worcester Polytechnic Institute (WPI) that yielded a ... and tissue regeneration. , The novel method, developed by WPI faculty members Raymond ...
Breaking Biology Technology: