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Watching how the brain works
Date:2/24/2014

proteins: a developmentally essential and ubiquitously present protein called Rho GTPase Cdc42 (cell division control protein 42), labeled with green fluorescent tag and its alleged signaling partner, the regulatory protein WASp (Wiskot-Aldrich Syndrome protein), labeled with red fluorescent tag. Together, these specialized proteins are believed to help neurons grow during brain development. The proteins were selected because the same (homolog) proteins exist in the human brain as well.

Previous methods required chemical or physical treatments that most likely disturb or even kill the cells. That made it impossible to study the protein interactions in their natural environment.

The current study addresses these challenges by using the occurrence of a phenomenon called Frster resonance energy transfer, or FRET. It occurs when two small proteins come within a very small distance of each other, (eight nanometers). The event is interpreted as the time and place where the particular protein interaction occurs within the living animal.

The findings show that FRET between the two interacting protein partners occurs within neurons, during the time and space that coincides with the formation of new synapses in the brain of the baby insect. Synapses connect individual neurons in the brain.

"Previous studies have demonstrated that Cdc42 and WASp can directly bind to each other in a test-tube, but this is the first direct demonstration that these two proteins are interacting within the brain," Chiba says.


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Contact: Annette Gallagher
a.gallagher1@umiami.edu
305-284-1121
University of Miami
Source:Eurekalert  

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