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:3/22/2017)... 2017   Neurotechnology , a provider of ... announced the release of the SentiVeillance 6.0 ... facial recognition using up to 10 surveillance, security ... The new version uses deep neural-network-based facial detection ... utilizes a Graphing Processing Unit (GPU) for enhanced ...
(Date:3/22/2017)... 21, 2017 Vigilant Solutions , a ... enforcement agencies, announced today the appointment of retired FBI ... public safety business development. Mr. Sheridan brings ... including a focus on the aviation transportation sector, to ... position, Mr. Sheridan served as the Aviation Liaison Agent ...
(Date:3/20/2017)... -- PMD Healthcare announces the release of its new ... (WMS), a remote, real-time lung health monitoring and management ... a Medical Device, Digital Health, and Chronic Care Management ... solutions that empower people to improve their healthcare and ... the first ever personal spirometer, Spiro PD, which was ...
Breaking Biology News(10 mins):
(Date:4/27/2017)... ... April 27, 2017 , ... The ... Communication Award goes to Jayson Lusk, a consummate communicator who promotes agricultural science ... advocate for science, as he explains how innovation and growth in agriculture are ...
(Date:4/26/2017)... ... April 26, 2017 , ... ... up with NASA to showcase the future of deep space exploration and inspire ... rocket and Orion spacecraft and includes a guest appearance by former Shuttle Astronaut ...
(Date:4/26/2017)... ... April 26, 2017 , ... NextSteps 2017, NetDimensions’ annual ... America this May on the following dates: , ?    London, UK from May ... the Learning and Performance Institute will be the opening keynote speaker at ...
(Date:4/25/2017)... , ... April 25, 2017 , ... ... leading supplier of Common Lisp (CL) development tools, and market leader for ... includes key performance enhancements now available within the most effective system for developing ...
Breaking Biology Technology: