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Stabilizing force for good communication between neurons and muscle cells found
Date:10/9/2008

They used a type of acetylcholine nicotinic receptor at the neuromuscular junction as a model for their studies of brain development and communication. The junction is 1,000 times larger than connections, or synapses, between two neurons but structurally similar. Fundamentals include presynaptic terminals that release neurotransmitters picked up by receptors on the postsynaptic side. Terminals and receptors must be lined up well, whether it's a muscle cell or neuron getting the message. "In central nervous system synapses and at the neuromuscular junction, receptors have to be concentrated at the right spot to receive the neurotransmitter released," says Dr. Mei. If receptors are in the wrong place, the message can be weak or even lost.

At the neuromuscular juncture, communication is usually straightforward, with primarily one neurotransmitter and one principal receptor. "Whenever you tell a muscle to move, it moves. If you want your muscles to think, you wouldn't be able to pick up a pin," says Dr. Mei. In the brain, where neurons have thousands of synapses, it's more of a negotiation. "Signals have to be integrated in the neuron for it to decide what to do."


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Contact: Toni Baker
tbaker@mcg.edu
706-721-4421
Medical College of Georgia
Source:Eurekalert  

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