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Scientists discover a molecular scaffold that guides connections between brain cells
Date:5/20/2008

aper, Dr. Huangs team traced the sub-cellular targeting of a different set of cerebellar neurons called stellate cells, which make numerous connections to the dendritic bush emanating from clumps of Purkinje cells. Unlike the cells they had studied previously, however, these neurons need help to form synapses. The researchers developed sophisticated techniques to label different cell types with chemical markers, and found that non-signaling cells called glia act as a scaffold, guiding the growing axons of the stellate cells and determining where they form synapses to the Purkinje cells.

In this role, the glia act something like matchmakers to bring the stellate and Purkinje cells together. But Dr. Huang notes that the scaffold of glia interspersed among the neurons allows each stellate cell to make contact to many different Purkinje cells. A direct attraction between stellate and Purkinje cells, he suggests, might lead two cells two pair up exclusively.


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Contact: Jim Bono
bono@cshl.edu
516-367-8455
Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory
Source:Eurekalert

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