Study published in PNAS showed how GEF and GAP proteins control neuritogenesis by modulating signaling.

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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