Navigation Links
UC Davis researchers identify brain protein for synapse development
Date:1/29/2010

(SACRAMENTO, Calif.) A new study from UC Davis Health System identifies for the first time a brain protein called SynDIG1 that plays a critical role in creating and sustaining synapses, the complex chemical signaling system responsible for communication between neurons. The research, published in the Jan.14 issue of the journal Neuron, fills a major gap in understanding the molecular foundations of higher cognitive abilities as well as some brain disorders.

"We know that synapses are essential for learning, memory and perception and suspect that imbalances in synapse formation impact disorders of the brain such as autism and schizophrenia," said Elva Diaz, assistant professor of pharmacology and senior author of the study. "Our study is the first to identify SynDIG1 as a critical regulator of these important brain connections."

The majority of synapses in the brain use glutamate as a neurotransmitter. While past research revealed that regulation of a certain class of glutamate receptor -- AMPA receptors -- are critical to communication between neurons, Diaz set out to discover novel molecular mechanisms of AMPA receptors that could support the formation and vitality of synapses.

She began by evaluating a gene (tmem90b) predicted to encode a novel transmembrane protein that is expressed exclusively in the central nervous system and highly similar across vertebrates, but otherwise not well-described. Microarray analyses revealed that this gene was expressed during synapse formation.

"I've always been interested in the discovery of new molecules, especially those with unique paths and intracellular influences," said Diaz, whose work focuses on the molecular mechanisms of brain development. "This is where answers to many disease processes can be found."

Diaz named the protein SynDIG1 -- or the synapse differentiation induced gene product -- and set out to define its role in synapse development. She and a team of molecular neurobiologists and electrophysiologists isolated cells from rat hippocampal neurons for a number of tests to understand the protein's functions.

One of the most important of those tests showed that SynDIG1 co-exists with AMPA receptors at the site of synapse formation, suggesting that it is essential to synapses in their earliest stages. Additional experiments revealed that manipulating SynDIG1 expression levels in the neurons changed both the number and quality of synapses, proving it had key roles in synapse formation as well in their lifespan and viability.

"Reducing SynDIG1 expression led to much fewer and smaller synapses, while increasing expression created more mature, stable synapses," said Diaz. "We think it is a key driver of the entire synaptic process, but we need to test this in an in vivo model before we can confidently say this is true."

Next, Diaz and her research team will test the role of SynDIG1 in live mice where the gene that encodes the protein is knocked out to determine the molecular and behavioral outcomes. She will also test the role of SynDIG1 in both early and established brain cells.

"We predict that SynDIG1 will be equally important in both new and older neurons, meaning that it has importance in both neurodevelopmental and later-onset diseases," said Diaz. "We could be on the path to redefining many brain diseases as synapse diseases instead."


'/>"/>

Contact: Karen Finney
karen.finney@ucdmc.ucdavis.edu
916-734-9064
University of California - Davis - Health System
Source:Eurekalert

Related medicine news :

1. S.C. BlueCross Creates Corporate Planning Unit, Promotes Davis to Vice President
2. ABC TV San Francisco Features Canine Cancer Research Story: Saving Our Dogs, Helping Humans Beat Cancer - Work at Morris Animal Foundation, UC-Davis
3. After Dropping 162 Pounds, Jodi Davis Inspires Other Michigan Women to Get Moving and Lose Weight Through WalkyTalk.com(TM)
4. UC Davis researchers find evidence of mature heart cell potential in embryonic stem cells
5. UC Davis researchers discover novel pathway to increased inflammation in diabetes patients
6. UC Davis researchers identify a cellular pathway that makes prostate cancer fatal
7. New UC Davis study finds physician style and HMO affiliation impact lengths of patient visit
8. Congressman Davis to Tour Pathology Laboratory, Learn Critical Role in Patient Care
9. Sex & the City Gets Serious About HIV and AIDS in South Africa - Kristin Davis Helps Oxfam Break the Stigma and Close the Treatment Gaps Fuelling AIDS
10. TeamStaff Hires Jeff Davis as Director of Operations for Government Solutions Subsidiary
11. Davis Vision, United Concordia Free Clinic Promotes Childrens Eye and Dental Health
Post Your Comments:
*Name:
*Comment:
*Email:
(Date:5/4/2016)... , ... May 04, 2016 , ... ... Dr. Todd Rider's research and development of DRACO broad-spectrum antiviral therapeutics. DRACOs have ... campaign that starts on May 3, 2016 at http://igg.me/at/EndTheVirus and runs ...
(Date:5/4/2016)... (PRWEB) , ... May 04, 2016 , ... ... and Continence Nurses (WOCN) Society™ and Canadian Association for Enterostomal Therapy (CAET) ... promotion, time saving and planning tools to attendees and exhibitors for the 2016 ...
(Date:5/4/2016)... ... May 04, 2016 , ... May kicked off with ... across the United States. Dermatologist Dr. Ellen Turner is encouraging her patients, as well ... and focus on skin safety and health now and in the future. , The ...
(Date:5/4/2016)... ... May 04, 2016 , ... Recognizing that lifestyle medicine is essential ... Verywell, have tapped David Katz, MD, MPH, president of the American College of ... to lifestyle medicine is especially gratifying,” said Katz. “There is so much opportunity to ...
(Date:5/4/2016)... ... May 04, 2016 , ... ... and compact tactical (6.7 inch) dual-light flashlights in models NSP-9842XL and NSR-9844XL ... (average retail starting at $59.95) uses 2 included CR-123 batteries to produce up ...
Breaking Medicine News(10 mins):
(Date:5/3/2016)... BROOMALL, Pa. , May 3, 2016 ... Attorney Jack Whelan and Delaware County ... NARCAN® (naloxone HCI) Nasal Spray in all ACME ... the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), naloxone has ... 2014, when police officers in Delaware County ...
(Date:5/3/2016)... (NYSE: DPLO) announced today that it is celebrating Hepatitis Awareness Month with a campaign to ... personal story and encourage those at risk to get tested and begin the road to ... ... ... (PRNewsFoto/Diplomat Pharmacy, Inc.) ...
(Date:5/3/2016)... , May 3, 2016 Intec ... a clinical-stage biopharmaceutical company, today announced the appointment of ... Regulatory Affairs. "Ms. Strauss-Levy has 15 years ... has established an outstanding track record, having supported the ... regulatory approval processes in the United States ...
Breaking Medicine Technology: