Several psychiatric conditions such as schizophrenia, autism and intellectual disabilities share the same brain cell abnormalities: the contacts (synapses) between brain cells are poorly developed and not functional. Claudia Bagni and her group associated with the VIB, KU Leuven, and Tor Vergata University in Italy, in collaboration with leading laboratories in the Netherlands, France, USA and UK have unraveled how a single protein (CYFIP1) orchestrates two biological processes to form proper contacts between brain cells. Importantly, the researchers identified various proteins that are important for the balance of the two processes and associated with several neurological disorders. Their study is published in the leading journals Neuron.
Claudia Bagni (VIB/KU Leuven/Tor Vergata-Rome): "These findings provide insights into the shaping of our brain and have important consequences for further studies of conditions such as autism, schizophrenia and intellectual disabilities. This work has a substantial impact considering that 1 in 5 Europeans is confronted with one of these brain conditions ranging from mild to serious developmental disabilities.
Synapses are essential for communication between brain cells
Our brain contain more than 100 billion brain cells (neurons) that contact each other in the so-called synapses, the place where signals are passed from one cell to the other. Synapses are like small "relay stations" containing around 2000 proteins that need to be regulated in a very controlled manner. Any small dysfunction of this cellular area can result in a brain disease. Autism, schizophrenia and intellectual disabilities (Down Syndrome, Fragile X Syndrome, Alzheimer Disease) are only a few examples of brain conditions that are linked to poorly functioning synapses.
The Fragile X Syndrome
Claudia Bagni and her team have pioneered the molecular studies on the Fragile X Syndrome, the leading cause of in
|Contact: Sooike Stoops|
VIB (the Flanders Institute for Biotechnology)