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RNA-associated introns guide nerve-cell channel production
Date:2/5/2008

rity of axons from other cells touch a particular neuron to facilitate neuronal communication says Eberwine. This is the first evidence that an intron-containing RNA outside of the nucleus serves a critical cellular function.

The intron acts like a guide or gatekeeper, says Eberwine. It keys the messenger RNA to the dendrite for local control of gene expression and final removal of the intron before the channel protein is made. Just because the intron is not in the final channel protein doesnt mean that it doesnt have an important purpose.

The group surmises that the intron may control how many mRNAs are brought to the dendrite and translated into functional channel proteins. The correct number of channels is just as important for electrical impulses as having a properly formed channel.

The investigators believe that this is a general mechanism for the regulation of cytoplasmic RNAs in neurons. Given the central role of dendrites in various physiological functions they hope to relate this new knowledge to understanding the molecular underpinnings of memory and learning, as well as components of cognitive dysfunction resulting from neurological disease.


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Contact: Karen Kreeger
karen.kreeger@uphs.upenn.edu
215-349-5658
University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine
Source:Eurekalert  

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