Navigation Links
Jackson Laboratory researchers provide definitive proof for receptor's role in synapse development

Jackson Laboratory researchers led by Associate Professor Zhong-wei Zhang, Ph.D., have provided direct evidence that a specific neurotransmitter receptor is vital to the process of pruning synapses in the brains of newborn mammals.

Faulty pruning at this early developmental stage is implicated in autism-spectrum disorders and schizophrenia. The definitive evidence for N-methyl-D-aspartate receptor (NMDAR) in pruning has eluded researchers until now, but in research published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, Zhang's lab had serendipitous help in the form of a mouse model containing brain cells lacking NMDAR side-by-side with cells containing the receptor.

Soon after birth, mammals' brains undergo significant development and change. Initially, large numbers of synapses form between neurons. Then, in response to stimuli, the synaptic connections are refinedsome synapses are strengthened and others eliminated, or pruned.

In most synapses, glutamate serves as the neurotransmitter, and NMDAR, a major type of post-synaptic glutamate receptor, was previously known to play an important role in neural circuit development. Previous research has implicated the importance of NMDARs in pruning, but it remained unclear whether they played a direct or indirect role.

Zhang and colleagues focused on the thalamus, a brain region where synapse pruning and strengthening can be monitored and quantified with relative ease. They got unexpected help when they realized the mouse model they were using had thalamus cells lacking NMDARs right next to cells with normal NMDAR levels.

The researchers showed that the refinement process was disrupted in the absence of NMDARs. At the same time, neighboring neurons with the receptors proceeded through normal synaptic strengthening and pruning, clearly establishing the necessity of NMDARs in postsynaptic neurons for synaptic refinement.

"Whenever I give a talk or meet colleagues," Zhang says, "the first question that comes up is whether the NMDA receptor is important. It's good that this is now settled definitively."

There has been extensive research into synaptic strengthening, and most of these studies indicate that the presence of NMDARs may support the recruitment of larger numbers of another kind of glutamate receptor to strengthen the synaptic connections. How NMDARs regulate the pruning process remains largely unknown, however.


Contact: Joyce Peterson
Jackson Laboratory

Related biology news :

1. Neurons made from stem cells drive brain activity after transplantation in laboratory model
2. Story tips from the Department of Energys Oak Ridge National Laboratory, July 2012
3. Its a trap! New laboratory technique captures microRNA targets
4. Global Laboratory Automation Industry
5. Story tips From the Department of Energys Oak Ridge National Laboratory, March 2012
6. Labor der Zukunft -- Tomorrows laboratory technology
7. Researchers discover genetic basis for eczema, new avenue to therapies
8. Thomas Jefferson University researchers discover new pathways that drive metastatic prostate cancer
9. Carin Görings remains identified by researchers at Uppsala University
10. CNIO researchers develop new databases for understanding the human genome
11. 3 Johns Hopkins researchers named AAAS Fellows
Post Your Comments:
(Date:11/11/2015)... Minn. , Nov. 11, 2015   MedNet Solutions ... entire spectrum of clinical research, is pleased to announce that ... in Clinical Trials (PCT) event, to be held November ... be able to view live demonstrations of iMedNet ... and learn how iMedNet has been able to ...
(Date:11/9/2015)... , Nov. 09, 2015 ... addition of the "Global Law Enforcement ... offering. --> ) has ... Law Enforcement Biometrics Market 2015-2019" report ... and Markets ( ) has announced ...
(Date:11/2/2015)... Calif. , Nov. 2, 2015  SRI International ... million to provide preclinical development services to the National ... contract, SRI will provide scientific expertise, modern testing and ... variety of preclinical pharmacology and toxicology studies to evaluate ... --> The PREVENT Cancer Drug Development Program ...
Breaking Biology News(10 mins):
(Date:11/25/2015)... , ... November 25, 2015 , ... ... uBiome, were featured on AngelList early in their initial angel funding process. Now, ... syndicate for individuals looking to make early stage investments in the microbiome space. ...
(Date:11/24/2015)... 2015 /CNW/ - iCo Therapeutics ("iCo" or "the Company") ... for the quarter ended September 30, 2015. Amounts, ... and presented under International Financial Reporting Standards ("IFRS"). ... said Andrew Rae , President & CEO ... not only value enriching for this clinical program, ...
(Date:11/24/2015)... PUNE, India , November 24, 2015 ... to a new market research report "Oligonucleotide Synthesis Market ... Equipment), Application (PCR, Gene Synthesis, Diagnostic, DNA, RNAi), End-User ... to 2020", published by MarketsandMarkets, the market is expected ... 1,078.1 Million in 2015, at a CAGR of 10.1% ...
(Date:11/24/2015)...  Tikcro Technologies Ltd. (OTCQB: TIKRF) today announced that its Annual General ... a.m. Israel time, at the law offices of ... 36 th Floor, Tel Aviv, Israel . ... Izhak Tamir to the Board of Directors; , election ... , approval of an amendment to certain terms of options granted to ...
Breaking Biology Technology: