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Key molecule in plant photo-protection identified

condition. The second, developed by scientists at Washington University, causes some of the mouse brain cells to produce a dye that allowed Brendza to obtain detailed images of nerve cell branches. To correlate brain cell changes with plaque development, Brendza injected another dye, developed by scientists at the University of Pittsburgh, that temporarily sticks to amyloid. He showed that as the plaques appeared, nearby branches of nerve cells developed bumps and swellings. "If you look under the electron microscope at these swellings, they are filled with abnormal amounts of different types of cellular parts known as organelles," Holtzman explains. "Normally any given segment of a nerve cell branch would have only very small amounts of these organelles." Nerve cells move organelles along their branches as a part of their regular function. Holtzman suspects that this transport breaks down in the mice, leading to pileups that become swellings. Scientists have previously demonstrated that such swellings make it difficult or impossible for nerve-cell branches to send signals. After showing that the swellings were mostly stable in number and size over the course of three to seven days, Brendza injected Abeta antibodies directly onto the surface of the mouse brains. In the region of the injection, the antibodies cleared the plaques, confirming earlier research results. Then Brendza closely monitored the swellings for three days. "We thought that clearing the plaques would halt the progression of the damage--stop the development of new swellings," says Brendza. "But what we saw was much more striking: in just three days, there were 20 to 25 percent reductions in the number or size of the existing swellings." The nerve cells' rapid ability to regain normal structure has Holtzman and Brendza wondering if the nerve cells are constantly trying to restore their normal structure. If so, that recuperative effort must somehow be countered on an ongoing basis by the effects of th
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