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WesternU Team Advances Understanding of Mechanisms of Learning and Neural Degeneration
Date:1/7/2014

Pomona, California (PRWEB) January 07, 2014

Two new publications by a team from Western University of Health Sciences shed further light on the mechanisms of learning and memory, and neuronal degeneration.

The first paper, “A molecular brake controls the magnitude of long-term potentiation,” by Yubin Wang, Guoqi Zhu, Victor Briz, Yu-Tien Hsu, Xiaoning Bi and Michel Baudry, was published Jan. 7, 2014 in Nature Communications. This paper shows the existence of a molecular brake that limits the amount of information that can be stored in one episode of learning. Click here to find the article at Nature Communications: http://www.nature.com/ncomms/index.html.

WesternU Graduate College of Biomedical Sciences Dean Michel Baudry, PhD, has investigated the mechanisms of learning and memory for 30 years, and this study builds upon the basic principles that he and others have developed in that time.

Brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF) and its signaling pathway play an important role in the cellular mechanisms underlying long-term potentiation (LTP) of synaptic transmission elicited by a train of electrical stimulation, a molecular mechanism of certain forms of long-term memory formation. In particular, BDNF has been shown to stimulate dendritic protein synthesis, another critical step in the formation of long-lasting memories.

Calpain is a calcium-dependent protease that normally is not activated in a cell until there is an influx of calcium. Proteases are enzymes that degrade other proteins. The protease calpain is unique in that when it cleaves its targets, it produces a long-lasting modification of their functions. There are two major forms of this protease in the brain: m-calpain and mu-calpain.

Baudry’s team had previously found that the mechanism by which BDNF stimulates local protein synthe
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