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Scientists shed light on long-distance signaling in developing neurons
Date:2/19/2008

even in the presence of NGF," Dr. Jaffrey says. "This proves that axonal CREB, not CREB in the nucleus, is the key player here."

The findings may have big implications for neuroscience going forward. First of all, they shed important new light on how the complex system of interconnected neurons develops over time, and how aberrations in this axon-to-nucleus relationship might impair that development.

"We are also wondering if the type of phenomenon we have observed might occur at other points in development, such as when axons navigate through tissues to find their targets or when axons arrive at targets and create synapses -- the electrochemical bridges between neurons, and target cells," Dr. Jaffrey says. "This newly discovered property of the axon -- its ability to produce its own functional transcription factors -- might allow axons to communicate with the nucleus throughout neurodevelopment."

And because runaway neuronal death is a hallmark of Alzheimer's disease, spinal cord injury and other neurological injuries or illness, insights into mechanisms controlling neuronal survival are bound to be useful for medical research, the scientists say.

"We believe other mRNAs, and other transcription factors, may play key roles as well," Dr. Jaffrey says. "This exciting work marks a big step forward in our understanding of neurodevelopment, as well as neurological health and disease."


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Contact: Andrew Klein
ank2017@med.cornell.edu
212-821-0560
New York- Presbyterian Hospital/Weill Cornell Medical Center/Weill Cornell Medical College
Source:Eurekalert

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