Corporate Banner
Satellite Banner
Biomolecular Screening
Scientific Community
 
Become a Member | Sign in
Home>News>This Article
  News
Return

Psychiatric Disorders Linked to a Protein Involved in the Formation of Long-Term Memories

Published: Tuesday, June 25, 2013
Last Updated: Tuesday, June 25, 2013
Bookmark and Share
Researchers have discovered a pathway by which the brain controls a molecule critical to forming long-term memories and connected with bipolar disorder and schizophrenia.

The discovery was made by a team of scientists led by Alexei Morozov, an assistant professor at the Virginia Tech Carilion Research Institute.

The mechanism – a protein called Rap1 – controls L-type calcium channels, which participate in the formation of long-term memories. Previous studies have also linked alterations in these ion channels to certain psychiatric disorders. The discovery of the channels’ regulation by Rap1 could help scientists understand the physiological genesis of bipolar disorder and schizophrenia.

“People with genetic mutations affecting L-type calcium channels have higher rates of bipolar disorder and schizophrenia,” said Morozov. “This suggests that there might be a relationship between the activation of L-type calcium channels and these psychiatric disorders. Understanding how these ion channels are controlled is the first step to determining how their functioning or malfunctioning affects mental health.”

A single neuron in the brain can have thousands of synapses, each of which can grow, strengthen, weaken, and change structurally in response to learning new information. Electric signals traveling from neuron to neuron jump across these synapses through chemical neurotransmitters. The release of these chemicals is caused by the flow of electrically charged atoms through a particular subset of ion channels known as voltage-gated calcium channels.

Previous studies have shown that blocking these ion channels inhibits the formation of long-term memories. Although it was known that L-type calcium channels are activated in response to learning, how they are controlled was a mystery.

In the experiment, Morozov and colleagues knocked out the gene responsible for coding the enzyme Rap1, which he suspected played a role in activating L-type calcium channels. The researchers then used live imaging techniques to monitor the release of neurotransmitters and electron microscopy to visualize L-type channels at synapses. They discovered that, without Rap1, the L-type calcium channels were more active and more abundant at synapses all the time, increasing the release of neurotransmitters. The results showed that Rap1 is responsible for suppressing L-type calcium channels, allowing them to activate only at the proper moments, possibly during long-term memory formation.

“Our next step is to determine whether this new signaling pathway is altered in cases of mental disease,” said Morozov. “If so, it could help us gain a better understanding of the molecular underpinnings of channel-related psychiatric disorders, such as bipolar disorder and schizophrenia. Such knowledge would go a long way toward developing new therapeutic methods.”

The discovery appeared in The Journal of Neuroscience in the study “Rap1 Signaling Prevents L-Type Calcium Channel-Dependent Neurotransmitter Release,” by Jaichandar Subramanian, now a research fellow at the Picower Institute for Learning and Memory at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology; Louis Dye, a staff scientist at the Microscopy and Imaging Core of the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development; and Morozov, who is also an assistant professor in Virginia Tech’s School of Biomedical Engineering and Sciences.


Further Information

Join For Free

Access to this exclusive content is for Technology Networks Premium members only.

Join Technology Networks Premium for free access to:

  • Exclusive articles
  • Presentations from international conferences
  • Over 3,300+ scientific posters on ePosters
  • More than 4,900+ scientific videos on LabTube
  • 35 community eNewsletters


Sign In



Forgotten your details? Click Here
If you are not a member you can join here

*Please note: By logging into TechnologyNetworks.com you agree to accept the use of cookies. To find out more about the cookies we use and how to delete them, see our privacy policy.

Related Content

Cancer Markers May be Present Early During Human Development
Researchers at the Virginia Bioinformatics Institute have uncovered a link between the genomes of cells originating in the neural crest and development of tumors — a discovery that could lead to new ways to diagnose and treat cancer.
Friday, August 07, 2015
Scanning Innovation can Improve Personalized Medicine
New combinations of medical imaging technologies hold promise for improved early disease screening, cancer staging, therapeutic assessment, and other aspects of personalized medicine.
Wednesday, November 28, 2012
Scientific News
Liquid Biopsies: Miracle Diagnostic or Next New Fad?
Thanks to the development of highly specific gene-amplification and sequencing technologies liquid biopsies access more biomarkers relevant to more cancers than ever before.
Gene Terapy for Muscle Wasting Developed
New gene therapy could save millions of people suffering from muscle wasting disease.
Detecting Alzheimer's with Smell Test
Odour identification test may offer low-cost alternative for predicting cognitive decline and detecting early-stage Alzheimer’s disease.
Fighting Cancer Through Protein Pathways
Researchers have found a new drug target within a protein production pathway critical to regulating growth and proliferation of cells.
Mutations in DNA-Repair Genes Found in Advanced Prostate Cancers
New findings indicate that nearly 12% of male advanced prostate cancer sufferers have inherited mutation in DNA-repair genes.
Molecule May Affect Gaucher, Parkinson's Disease
Research has identified a molecule that restores activity of a dysfunctional enzyme linked to Gaucher and Parkinson's disease.
Targeting BRAF Mutations in Thyroid Cancer
Treating metastatic thyroid cancer patients harboring a BRAF mutation with vemurafenib showed anti-tumor activity in a third of patients.
Plant Compounds Fight Together Against Colon Cancer
Research shows treating colon cancer cells with curcumin, then silymarin is more effective than treatment with each individually.
New Centre Offers Ultra-Speed Protein Analysis
UW-Madison researchers to establish development centre for next-gen protein measurement technologies.
Drug Candidates Reduce Abnormal Protein Production
New drug candidates improve cell ability to catch miss-folded proteins that could cause deadly diseases.
SELECTBIO

SELECTBIO Market Reports
Go to LabTube
Go to eposters
 
Access to the latest scientific news
Exclusive articles
Upload and share your posters on ePosters
Latest presentations and webinars
View a library of 1,800+ scientific and medical posters
3,300+ scientific and medical posters
A library of 2,500+ scientific videos on LabTube
4,900+ scientific videos
Close
Premium CrownJOIN TECHNOLOGY NETWORKS PREMIUM FOR FREE!