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Key protein, FABP5, enhances memory and learning
Date:5/2/2014

Case Western Reserve researchers have discovered that a protein previously implicated in disease plays such a positive role in learning and memory that it may someday contribute to cures of cognitive impairments. The findings regarding the potential virtues of fatty acid binding protein 5 (FABP5) usually associated with cancer and psoriasis appear in the May 2 edition of The Journal of Biological Chemistry.

"Overall, our data show that FABP5 enhances cognitive function and that FABP5 deficiency impairs learning and memory functions in the brain hippocampus region," said senior author Noa Noy, PhD, a professor of pharmacology at the School of Medicine. "We believe if we could find a way to upregulate the expression of FABP5 in the brain, we might have a therapeutic handle on cognitive dysfunction or memory impairment in some human diseases."

FABP5 resides in many tissues and is especially highly expressed in the brain. Noy and her Case Western Reserve School of Medicine and National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism colleagues particularly wanted to understand how this protein functioned in neurons. They performed imaging studies comparing the activation of a key transcription factor in the brain tissue of normal mice and in FABP5-deficient mice. (Transcription factor is a protein the controls the flow of genetic information). The investigations revealed that FABP5 performs two different functions in neurons. First, it facilitates the degradation of endocannabinoids, which are neurological modulators controlling appetite, pain sensation, mood and memory. Second, FABP5 regulates gene expression, a process that essentially gives cells their marching orders on structure, appearance and function.

"FABP5 improves learning and memory both because it delivers endocannabinoids to cellular machinery that breaks them down and because it shuttles compounds to a transcription factor that increases the expression of cognition-asso
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Contact: Jeannette Spalding
jxs1243@case.edu
216-368-3004
Case Western Reserve University
Source:Eurekalert

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