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Virginia Tech Carilion researchers find surprising relationships in brain signaling
Date:9/12/2013

If the violins were taken away from the musicians performing Beethoven's 9th symphony, the resulting composition would sound very different. If the violins were left on stage but the violinists were removed, the same mutant version of the symphony would be heard.

But what if it ended up sounding like "Hey Jude" instead?

This sort of surprise is what scientists from the Virginia Tech Carilion Research Institute had during what they assumed to be a routine experiment in neurodevelopment. Previous studies had shown that the glycoprotein Reelin is crucial to developing healthy neural networks. Logically, taking away the two receptors that Reelin is known to act on early in the brain's development should create the same malformations as taking away Reelin itself.

It didn't.

"We conducted the experiment thinking we'd see the same defects for both cases Reelin deficiency and its receptors' deletion but we didn't," said Michael Fox, an associate professor at the research institute and the lead author of the study. "If you take away the receptors instead of the targeting molecule, you get an entirely separate set of abnormalities. The results raise the question of the identity of other molecules with which Reelin and the two receptors are interacting."

The study, first published online in June in Neural Development, could prove useful for the development of therapies and diagnostics to combat brain disease.

In the early stages of neural development, neurons grow from the retina to a small portion of the brain called the thalamus. All sensory information coming into the brain gets routed through this region, before being transmitted to the cerebral cortex for further processing. Because these ret
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Contact: Paula Byron
paulabyron@vt.edu
540-526-2027
Virginia Tech
Source:Eurekalert

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