Navigation Links
Scientists learn what makes nerve cells so strong
Date:4/15/2013

How do nerve cells -- which can each be up to three feet long in humans -- keep from rupturing or falling apart?

Axons, the long, cable-like projections on neurons, are made stronger by a unique modification of the common molecular building block of the cell skeleton. The finding, which may help guide the search for treatments for neurodegenerative diseases, was reported in the April 10 issue of Neuron by researchers at the University of Illinois at Chicago College of Medicine.

Microtubules are long, hollow cylinders that are a component of the cytoskeleton in all cells of the body. They also support transport of molecules within the cell and facilitate growth. They are made up of polymers of a building-block substance called tubulin.

"Except for neurons, cells' microtubules are in constant dynamic flux -- being taking apart and rebuilt," says Scott Brady, professor and head of anatomy and cell biology at UIC and principal investigator on the study. But only neurons grow so long, he said, and once created they must endure throughout a person's life, as much as 80 to 100 years. The microtubules of neurons are able to withstand laboratory conditions that cause other cells' microtubules to break apart.

Brady had been able to show some time ago that the neuron's stability depended on a modification of tubulin.

"But when we tried to figure out what the modification was, we didn't have the tools," he said.

Yuyu Song, a former graduate student in Brady's lab and the first author of the study, took up the question. "It was like a detective story with many possibilities that had to be ruled out one by one," she said. Song, who is now a post-doctoral fellow at Howard Hughes Medical Institute at Yale School of Medicine, used a variety of methods to determine the nature of the modification and where it occurs.

She found that tubulin is modified by the chemical bonding of polyamines, positively charged molecules, at sites that might otherwise be chinks where tubulin could be broken down, causing the microtubules to fall apart. She was also able to show that the enzyme transglutaminase was responsible for adding the protective polyamines.

The blocking of a vulnerable site on tubulin would explain the extraordinary stability of neuron microtubules, said Brady. However, convincing others required the "thorough and elegant work" that Song brought to it, he said. "It's such a radical finding that we needed to show all the key steps along the way."

The authors also note that increased microtubule stability correlates with decreased neuronal plasticity -- and both occur in the process of aging and in some neurodegenerative diseases. Continued research, they say, may help identify novel therapeutic approaches to prevent neurodegeneration or allow regeneration.


'/>"/>

Contact: Jeanne Galatzer-Levy
jgala@uic.edu
312-996-1583
University of Illinois at Chicago
Source:Eurekalert

Related biology news :

1. Inter-American Network of Science Academies celebrates women scientists -- April 17 event
2. A novel surface marker helps scientists fish out mammary gland stem cells
3. Scientists stress need for national marine biodiversity observation network
4. Scientists decode genome of painted turtle, revealing clues to extraordinary adaptations
5. 8 M € from EU to enhance access by scientists to the largest European biobanks
6. CSHL neuroscientists show jumping genes may contribute to aging-related brain defects
7. NYSCF scientists develop new protocol to ready induced pluripotent stem cell clinical application
8. Scientists find government justification of new environmental policy unfounded
9. NYSCF scientists develop 3-D stem cell culture technique to better understand Alzheimers disease
10. UGA discovery may allow scientists to make fuel from CO2 in the atmosphere
11. UT MD Anderson scientists uncover the nuclear life of actin
Post Your Comments:
*Name:
*Comment:
*Email:
(Date:5/6/2017)... 2017 RAM Group , Singaporean ... breakthrough in biometric authentication based on a ... to perform biometric authentication. These new sensors are based ... by Ram Group and its partners. This sensor will ... chains and security. Ram Group is a next ...
(Date:4/13/2017)... , April 13, 2017 UBM,s Advanced ... will feature emerging and evolving technology through ... Innovation Summits will run alongside the expo portion of ... sessions, panels and demonstrations focused on trending topics within ... advanced design and manufacturing event will take place June ...
(Date:4/11/2017)... MELBOURNE, Florida , April 11, 2017 ... "Company"), a security technology company, announces the appointment of independent ... John Bendheim to its Board of Directors, furthering the ... ... behalf of NXT-ID, we look forward to their guidance and ...
Breaking Biology News(10 mins):
(Date:10/11/2017)... ... October 11, 2017 , ... The CRISPR-Cas9 ... overexpression experiments and avoiding the use of exogenous expression plasmids. The simplicity of ... performing systematic gain-of-function studies. , This complement to loss-of-function studies, such as ...
(Date:10/11/2017)... LAGUNA HILLS, Calif. , Oct. 11, 2017 /PRNewswire/ ... London (ICR) and University of ... tool to risk-stratify patients with multiple myeloma (MM), in a ... . The University of Leeds is ... Myeloma UK, and ICR will perform the testing services to ...
(Date:10/10/2017)... Los Angeles, CA (PRWEB) , ... ... ... Pharmaceuticals, Inc., a development-stage cancer-focused pharmaceutical company advancing targeted antibody-drug conjugate (ADC) ... all uses of targeted HPLN (Hybrid Polymerized Liposomal Nanoparticle), a technology developed ...
(Date:10/10/2017)... (PRWEB) , ... October 10, 2017 , ... ... innovation and business process optimization firm for the life sciences and healthcare industries, ... conference in San Francisco. , The presentation, “Automating GxP Validation for Agile ...
Breaking Biology Technology: