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Jan 29, 2008

Scientists Map Role of Proteins in Neuron Differentiation

  • Researchers at the University of California, San Diego School of Medicine say that they have discovered how neuronal proteins connect into signaling networks.

    The investigative team developed a microporous filter to separate the neurite from the cell body of the neuron, called the soma. This allowed them to use mass spectrometry. Using information gleaned from published work, they were then able to predict the function of most of the neurite proteins, which allowed them to construct a blueprint of how the thousands of proteins work together to facilitate neurite formation.

    The scientists identified a complex network of enriched proteins called GEFs and GAPs that control neuritogenesis by modulating signaling.

    “This signaling provides external guidance cues to mechanical mechanisms inside the cell that make the neurite go forward, turn, or reverse direction,” explains Richard Klemke, Ph.D., professor of pathology and study leader.

    “Understanding how the thousands of neurite proteins work in concert may someday help us guide neurites to the right place in the body to regenerate and reverse the impact of neural degenerative diseases or help facilitate spinal cord healing after injury.”

    Their study will be published in the online, early edition of Proceedings of the National Academy of Science.



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Scientifically Studying Ecstasy

MDMA (commonly known as the empathogen “ecstasy”) is classified as a Schedule 1 drug, which is reserved for compounds with no accepted medical use and a high abuse potential. Two researchers from Stanford, however, call for a rigorous scientific exploration of MDMA's effects to identify precisely how the drug works, the data from which could be used to develop therapeutic compounds.

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