Navigation Links
IRCM researchers uncover a new piece of the puzzle in the development of our nervous system

Researchers at the Institut de recherches cliniques de Montral (IRCM) are among the many scientists around the world trying to unearth our nervous system's countless mysteries. Dr. Artur Kania, Director of the IRCM's Neural Circuit Development research unit, and a postdoctoral fellow in his laboratory, Dr. Tzu-Jen Kao, recently uncovered a new piece of the puzzle.

Scientists studying neural development aim to provide insight into the mechanisms that build our nervous system, which contains networks of specialized cells called neurons. Neurons send signals to one another and compute appropriate responses to sensory stimuli.

"For example, neural circuits enable our hands to move away from a burning ember or direct the precise movements of a surgeon's fingers," mentions Dr. Kania. "My laboratory focuses on spinal motor neurons that control muscles and are located in the spinal cord."

In the developing nervous system, axon guidance is the process by which neurons send out axons (long extensions that form our nerves) in order to connect to their correct targets. Growing axons are, in turn, guided towards their targets by signals transmitted from molecules called "ligands," which bind to special "receptors" on the surface of the axon.

"What is really surprising is that our nerves develop using relatively few ligands and receptors," says Dr. Kania. "We still do not quite understand how, during the development of the nervous system, so few of these molecules manage to form the multitude of existing nerve connections with such accuracy."

To answer this question, Drs. Kania and Kao have been studying the development of motor neuron axons growing into limb muscles. They noticed that in this motor system, the ligands (called ephrins) are present in the same neuron as receptors (called Ephs).

"We showed that ligands present in the neuron bind to their receptors and render them unresponsive to the other ligands in the environment," says Dr. Kao. "Thus, an axon guidance ligand can alter the sensitivity of growing axons to environmental signals, which increases the diversity of axon guidance responses."

The scientific breakthrough made by Drs. Kania and Kao will be published in today's issue of Neuron, a scientific journal of the Cell Press group. "Our experiments shed light on poorly understood mechanisms of neuronal development" adds Dr. Kania. "Our breakthrough in the motor system offers the scientific community a new basis for explaining how the function of such few molecules can be modulated to produce a vast array of neuronal connections."


Contact: Julie Langelier
Institut de recherches cliniques de Montreal

Related biology news :

1. TUM researchers discover a new switch in resistance to plant diseases
2. BUSM researchers urge awareness of dietary iodine intake in postpartum Korean-American women
3. Researchers study pesticide pathways into the atmosphere
4. Johns Hopkins researchers identify new genetic risk factor for sudden cardiac death
5. Johns Hopkins researchers awarded $32 million
6. U of T researchers build an antenna for light
7. Researchers closing in on safe treatment for parasitic diseases
8. Unnatural chemical allows Salk researchers to watch protein action in brain cells
9. UTMB-led researchers awarded $7.8 million for Gulf spill study
10. John Theurer Cancer Center BMT researchers highlight the importance of social support
11. Researchers characterize biomechanics of ovarian cells according to phenotype at stages of cancer
Post Your Comments:
(Date:10/27/2015)... NEW YORK , Oct. 27, 2015 ... the major issues of concern for various industry verticals ... This is due to the growing demand for secure ... practices in various ,sectors, such as hacking of bank ... concerns for electronic equipment such as PC,s, laptops, and ...
(Date:10/26/2015)... , October 26, 2015 ... --> adds Biometrics Market ... 2021 as well as Emerging Biometrics ... reports to its collection of IT ... . --> ...
(Date:10/23/2015)... 2015 Research and Markets ( ) ... Recognition Biometrics Market 2015-2019" report to their offering. ... The global voice recognition biometrics market to grow at ... --> --> The report, Global ... on an in-depth market analysis with inputs from industry ...
Breaking Biology News(10 mins):
(Date:11/24/2015)... , Nov. 24, 2015  Asia-Pacific (APAC) ... research organisation (CRO) market. The trend of outsourcing ... lower margins but higher volume share for the ... and scale, however, margins in the CRO industry ... (CRO) Market ( ), finds that ...
(Date:11/24/2015)... , ... November 24, 2015 , ... ... healthy metabolism. But unless it is bound to proteins, copper is also toxic ... (NIH), researchers at Worcester Polytechnic Institute (WPI) will conduct a systematic study of ...
(Date:11/24/2015)... ... November 24, 2015 , ... This fall, global software ... events in five states to develop and pitch their BIG ideas to improve health ... state are competing for votes to win the title of SAP's Teen Innovator, an ...
(Date:11/24/2015)... , Nov. 24, 2015 /PRNewswire/ - Aeterna Zentaris ... today that the remaining 11,000 post-share consolidation (or ... Warrants (the "Series B Warrants") subject to the ... on November 23, 2015, which will result in ... giving effect to the issuance of such shares, ...
Breaking Biology Technology: