Navigation Links
Tiny worm sheds light on giant mystery about neurons
Date:4/30/2013

BETHESDA, MD April 30, 2013 -- Scientists have identified a gene that keeps our nerve fibers from clogging up. Researchers in Ken Miller's laboratory at the Oklahoma Medical Research Foundation (OMRF) found that the unc-16 gene of the roundworm Caenorhabditis elegans encodes a gatekeeper that restricts flow of cellular organelles from the cell body to the axon, a long, narrow extension that neurons use for signaling. Organelles clogging the axon could interfere with neuronal signaling or cause the axon to degenerate, leading to neurodegenerative disorders. This research, published in the May 2013 Genetics Society of America's journal GENETICS, adds an unexpected twist to our understanding of trafficking within neurons.

Proteins equivalent to UNC-16 are present in the neurons of all animals, including humans And are known to interact with proteins associated with neurodegenerative disorders in humans (Hereditary Spastic Paraplegia) and mice (Legs at Odd Angles). However, the underlying cause of these disorders is not well understood.

"Our UNC-16 study provides the first insights into a previously unrecognized trafficking system that protects axons from invasion by organelles from the cell soma," Dr. Miller said. "A breakdown in this gatekeeper may be the underlying cause of this group of disorders," he added.

The use of the model organism C. elegans, a tiny, translucent roundworm with only 300 neurons, enabled the discovery because the researchers were able to apply complex genetic techniques and imaging methods in living organisms, which would be impossible in larger animals. Dr. Miller's team tagged organelles with fluorescent proteins and then used time-lapse imaging to follow the movements of the organelles. In normal axons, organelles exited the cell body and entered the initial segment of the axon, but did not move beyond that. In axons of unc-16 mutants, the organelles hitched a ride on tiny motors that carried them deep into the axon, where they accumulated.

Dr. Miller acknowledges there are still a lot of unanswered questions. His lab is currently investigating how UNC-16 performs its crucial gatekeeper function by looking for other mutant worms with similar phenotypes. A Commentary on the article, also published in this issue of GENETICS, calls the work "provocative", and highlights several important questions prompted by this pioneering study.

"This research once again shows how studies of simple model organisms can bring insight into complex neurodegenerative diseases in humans," said Mark Johnston, Editor-in-Chief of the journal GENETICS. "This kind of basic research is necessary if we are to understand diseases that can't easily be studied in more complex animals."


'/>"/>

Contact: Phyllis Edelman
pedelman@genetics-gsa.org
301-634-7302
Genetics Society of America
Source:Eurekalert

Related medicine news :

1. Study sheds new light on role of genetic mutations in colon cancer development
2. Bonobo Genome Sheds Light on Their Links to Chimps, Humans
3. Genetic Research Sheds Light on Jewish Diaspora
4. Study of Brain-Injured Man Sheds Light on Self-Awareness
5. New research on employment-based insurance sheds light on health care reform
6. Pitt research sheds new light on virus associated with developmental delays and deafness
7. Research sheds new light on mechanisms of T-ALL, a form of leukemia that primarily affects children
8. Study Sheds Light on Evolution of Tree-Dwelling Humans
9. Immunology research sheds new light on cell function, response
10. Mouse menopause model sheds light on UTIs in post-menopausal women
11. Rutgers neuroscientist sheds light on cause for chemo brain
Post Your Comments:
*Name:
*Comment:
*Email:
(Date:5/25/2016)... ... May 25, 2016 , ... One Florida-based plastic surgeon’s ... according to an article published May 13th on Vanity Fair. In fact, ... having snippets of their procedures broadcast to more than 800,000 Snapchat fans. Commenting on ...
(Date:5/25/2016)... ... 25, 2016 , ... Indiana Fiber Network, LLC (IFN), the ... IFN as a fiber transport provider. IFN provided Lake City Bank with network ... , “IFN provides fiber transport to Lake City Bank, which includes ...
(Date:5/25/2016)... ... ... CloudLIMS, joins an elite number of companies that have earned a spot ... by CIOReview. , In a deliberate session with the honorary industrial experts, a list ... concluded with. The positioning is based on evaluation of CloudLIMS’ specialties in Automated Sample ...
(Date:5/25/2016)... ... May 25, 2016 , ... DKT International, one of ... world, is pleased to release their 2015 global impact data. In 2015, DKT ... 14,000 maternal deaths and 3.8 million unsafe abortions across 21 countries worldwide. ...
(Date:5/25/2016)... ... 2016 , ... Casa Velas, an adults-only boutique hotel in Puerto Vallarta, Mexico, ... new wellness suites . The two 1,350 sq. ft. suites which debuted in ... and insuite amenities, from a custom soap selection and in-suite exercise kit to a ...
Breaking Medicine News(10 mins):
(Date:5/24/2016)... -- Niederländische Chirurgen haben eine innovative ... erlaubt, ihre Expertise weltweit zu teilen und so ... mit einer Instant-Messaging-Funktion und der Möglichkeit, in einem ... Afrika, Asien und den USA ... Information und Weiterbildung   "MDLinking ...
(Date:5/24/2016)...   , Study met both ... in , Excellent plus Good ... of the ascending colon   ,      ... announced new positive data from the phase III MORA study for ... litre PEG with ascorbate. The study met both primary endpoints showing ...
(Date:5/24/2016)... May 24, 2016  NxStage Medical, Inc. (Nasdaq: ... on advancing renal care, today announced that Jeffrey ... in the following schedule of investor conferences. Where applicable, ... at http://ir.nxstage.com/ .   ... Conference NY, NY           Friday, June 10, 2016 1:30 ...
Breaking Medicine Technology: