Corporate Banner
Satellite Banner
Technology
Networks
Scientific Communities
 
Become a Member | Sign in
Home>News>This Article
  News
Return

Channel Makeover Bioengineered to Switch Off Neurons

Published: Friday, April 25, 2014
Last Updated: Friday, April 25, 2014
Bookmark and Share
Leaps orders of magnitude beyond existing tools - NIH study.

Scientists have bioengineered, in neurons cultured from rats, an enhancement to a cutting edge technology that provides instant control over brain circuit activity with a flash of light. The research funded by the National Institutes of Health adds the same level of control over turning neurons off that, until now, had been limited to turning them on.

"What had been working through a weak pump can now work through a highly responsive channel with many orders of magnitude more impact on cell function," explained Karl Deisseroth, M.D., Ph.D., (https://med.stanford.edu/profiles/bioengineering/karl-deisseroth) of Stanford University, Stanford, Calif.

It is like going from a squirt to a gushing hose.

Deisseroth and colleagues report on what is being hailed as a marvel of genetic engineering in the April 25, 2014 issue of the journal Science.

"This latest discovery by the Deisseroth team is the type of neurotechnology envisioned by President Obama when he launched the BRAIN Initiative a year ago," said Thomas R. Insel, M.D., director of the National Institute of Mental Health, a funder of the study. "It creates a powerful tool that allows neuroscientists to apply a brake in any specific circuit with millisecond precision, beyond the power of any existing technology. This will be vital for understanding brain circuits involved in behavior, thinking, and emotion."

Deisseroth's team had pioneered the use of light pulses to control brain circuitry in animals genetically engineered to be light-responsive - optogenetics (http://www.nimh.nih.gov/news/science-news/2007/scientists-switch-neurons-on-and-off-using-light.shtml). Genes that allow the sun to control light-sensitive primitive organisms like algae, melded with genes that make fluorescent marker proteins, are fused with a deactivated virus that delivers them to specific types of neurons which they become part of - allowing pulses of light to similarly commandeer brain cells.

When a neuron fires depends on the balance of ions flowing across the cell membrane, so being able to experimentally control this cellular machinery is critical for understanding how the brain works. But until now, the optogenetic tools for turning off neurons have been much less powerful than for turning them on - a weak inhibitory pump, moving only one ion per photon of light, versus an efficient excitatory channel.

Stanford bioengineers and their colleagues recently discovered the crystal structure (http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/?term=crystal+structure+of+the+channelrhodopsin+light-gated+cation+channel) of channelrhodopsin, the protein borrowed from algae to achieve optogenetic control of neurons. To transform this excitatory channel into an effective inhibitory channel, the team systematically introduced mutations into the channel's gene, gradually reshaping its structure through molecular engineering into one with optimal inhibitory properties. To become an effective inhibitory channel, its central pore needed to be lined with positive instead of negatively charged amino acids to be converted from a cation (positive ion) - conducting into an anion (negative ion) - conducting channel.

It turns out that there are economies of scale afforded by the transformed channel - the more the inhibition, the less light required to achieve the desired biological effect. This raises possible future therapeutic applications, such as in the management of pain, said Deisseroth.


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 3,200+ scientific posters on ePosters
  • More Than 4,800+ 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

Connectome Map More Than Doubles Human Cortex’s Known Regions
Researchers at NIH have developed software that automatically detects the “fingerprint” of each of these areas in an individual’s brain scans.
Saturday, July 23, 2016
Uncovering a New Principle in Chemotherapy Resistance in Breast Cancer
The NIH study has revealed an entirely unexpected process for acquiring drug resistance that bypasses the need to re-establish DNA damage repair in breast cancers that have mutant BRCA1 or BRCA2 genes.
Thursday, July 21, 2016
Brain Circuits Helps People Cope With Stress
Researchers at NIH have identified brain patterns in humans that appear to underlie “resilient coping,” to stress that help some people handle stressful situations better than others.
Wednesday, July 20, 2016
NIH Investment Into HIV Research Expands
Funding has been awarded to six research teams to lead collaborative investigations worldwide toward an HIV cure.
Thursday, July 14, 2016
Treatment Advancement for Gaucher and Parkinson's Diseases
NIH scientists identify molecule that may act as a possible treatment of neurological diseases.
Wednesday, July 13, 2016
Use it or Lose it: Visual Activity Regenerates Links Between Eye, Brain
The mouse study is first to show visual stimulation helps re-wire visual system and partially restores sight.
Tuesday, July 12, 2016
NIH Funds Million-Person Medicine Study
NIH announces $55million in awards to build foundations for ambitious Cohort Program that aims to engage 1 million participants in lifestyle, environments and genetics research.
Friday, July 08, 2016
Largest-Ever Study of Breast Cancer Genetics in Black Women
The study will identify genetic factors that may underlie breast cancer disparities.
Thursday, July 07, 2016
NIH-Funded Center to Study Inefficiencies in Clinical Trials
Researchers at the Duke Clinical Research Institute (DCRI) and Vanderbilt University Medical Center (VUMC) have received a major federal grant to study how multisite clinical trials of new drugs and therapies in children and adults can be conducted more rapidly and efficiently.
Thursday, July 07, 2016
NIH Funds Zika Virus Study Involving U.S. Olympic Team
Researchers will monitor potential Zika virus exposure among a subset of athletes traveling to Brazil.
Wednesday, July 06, 2016
PREVAIL Treatment Trial for Men with Persistent Ebola Viral RNA
The six-month study will enroll 60 to 120 EVD survivors.
Wednesday, July 06, 2016
Implementation Science Approaches to Reduce Mother-to-Child HIV Transmission
The NIH study will investigate best practices to ease major disease burden in Sub-Saharan Africa.
Friday, July 01, 2016
Significant Expansion Of Data Available In The Genomic Data Commons
Cancer genomic profile information from 18,000 adult cancer patients will be added to the database.
Wednesday, June 29, 2016
Some Women With PCOS May Have Adrenal Disorder
Researchers at NIH have found that a subgroup of women with PCOS, a leading cause of infertility, may produce excess adrenal hormones.
Tuesday, June 28, 2016
Manufactured Stem Cells To Advance Clinical Research
Clinical-grade cell line will enable development of new therapies and accelerate early-stage clinical research.
Tuesday, June 28, 2016
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.
Connectome Map More Than Doubles Human Cortex’s Known Regions
Researchers at NIH have developed software that automatically detects the “fingerprint” of each of these areas in an individual’s brain scans.
Discovered Through ‘Big Data’ Analysis
Researchers at the SBP have identified over 100 new genetic regions that affect the immune response to cancer.
Human Stem Cells to Rapidly Generate Bone, Heart Muscle
A new study shows that combining positive and negative signals can quickly and efficiently steer stem cells down complex developmental pathways to become specialized tissues that could be used in the clinic.
New Mechanism of Tuberculosis Infection
Researchers at UTSW Medical Center have identified a new way that tuberculosis bacteria get into the body, revealing a potential therapeutic angle to explore.
New Therapeutic Targets For Small Cell Lung Cancer Identified
Researchers at UTSW Medical Center have identified a protein termed ASCL1 that is essential to the development of small cell lung cancer and that, when deleted in the lungs of mice, prevents the cancer from forming.
Eliminating Doubt in Criminal Investigations
New ASU certificate to help curb error, misunderstanding in the quest for justice.
Determination of 13 Organic Toxicants in Human Blood
Researchers have utilised liquid-liquid extraction coupling HPLC-MS/MS to identify and quantify organic toxicants in human blood.
A Novel Cell Culture Model For Forensic Biology Experiments
Researchers have developed a new cell culture model which provides an efficient research tool in forensic biology.
Rhino DNA Bank Aids Anti-Poaching Fight
At the University of Pretoria's Veterinary Genetics Laboratory (VGL) at Onderstepoort, Dr Cindy Harper and her team have developed a ground-breaking technique to collect and catalogue DNA from rhinos and rhino horns.
Scroll Up
Scroll Down

Skyscraper Banner
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
3,200+ scientific and medical posters
A library of 2,500+ scientific videos on LabTube
4,800+ scientific videos
Close
Premium CrownJOIN TECHNOLOGY NETWORKS PREMIUM FOR FREE!