Social Media Sidebar

Announcement

Please sign up, comment on articles and bring your friends!

Current poll

PlanetTech is asking:

What do you think about our new web site?

Love it, indeed
Really good solution
Same as old one
The old one was better
This is a new option

Quote of the day

We are all now connected by the Internet, like neurons in a giant brain.

 

Stephen Hawking

 

Possible biochemical mechanism underlying long-term memories identified

RATE THIS! +44
Posted in Science on 7th Dec, 2015 09:45 PM by AlexMuller

Why do some of our memories fade away, while others last forever? Now scientists have identified a possible biochemical mechanism: a specific synaptic protein called Orb2 can either block or maintain neural synapses, which create and maintain long-term memories.

 
So for a memory to persist, the synaptic connections must be kept strong. But how? The researchers previously identified a synaptic protein called CPEB that is responsible for maintaining the strength of such connections in the sea slug (a model organism used in memory research). Recently, they identified a similar protein, called Orb2, in the fruit fly.
 
Now, using a fruit fly model system, they found that the synaptic connections are kept strong by the transformation of Orb2 from one molecular state to another. And that transformation causes Orb2 molecules to solidify and strengthen the memory connections in the brain.
 
The authors conclude their paper, published in the current issue of the journal Cell, with several questions. How and what triggers this transformation, how long does it persist? Is the continued presence of a prion-like state necessary for the persistence of memory, and is it correlated with or predictive of long-lasting memory? And most interestingly: can a transient memory about to be forgotten be stabilized by artificial recruitment of the prion-like state (perhaps by a neurotropic compound)?
 
And what about that ironic link with prions, associated with neurodegenerative disorders? Are prions some twisted form of memory that could one day even have value? We’ll be keeping an eye on where this fascinating research leads.
 
In their latest study, the researchers determined that Orb2 exists in two distinct physical states: monomeric (a single molecule that can bind to other molecules) and oligomeric (a molecular complex).
 
Like CPEB, oligomeric Orb2 is prion-like, that is, it’s a self-copying cluster. (But unlike prions, oligomeric Orb2 and CPEB are not toxic.) Monomeric Orb2 represses, and oligomeric Orb2 activates a crucial step in the complex cellular process that leads to protein synthesis.
 
During this crucial step, messenger RNA (mRNA), which is an RNA copy of a gene’s recipe for a protein, is translated by the cell’s ribosome into the sequence of amino acids that will make up a newly synthesized protein. The monomeric form of Orb2 binds to the target mRNA, keeping it in a repressed state.
 
The Stowers scientists also determined that prion-like Orb2 not only activates translation into amino acids but imparts its translational state to nearby monomer forms of Orb2. As a result, monomeric Orb2 is transformed into prion-like Orb2, so its role in translation switches from repression to activation.
 
Stowers Associate Investigator Kausik Si, Ph.D. thinks this switch is the possible mechanism by which fleeting experiences create an enduring memory. “Because of the self-sustaining nature of the prion-like state, this creates a local and self-sustaining translation activation of Orb2-target mRNA, which maintains the changed state of synaptic activity over time,” says Si.
 
The discovery that the two distinct states of Orb2 have opposing roles in the translation process provides “for the first time a biochemical mechanism of synapse-specific persistent translation and long-lasting memory,” he states.
 
“To our knowledge, this is the first example of a prion-based protein switch that turns a repressor into an activator,” Si adds. “The recruitment of distinct protein complexes at the non-prion and prion-like forms to create altered activity states indicates the prion-like behavior is in essence a protein conformation-based switch.
 
“Through this switch, a protein can lose or gain a function that can be maintained over time in the absence of the original stimuli. Although such a possibility has been anticipated prior to this study, there was no direct evidence.”

Tags: brainbiologyneuroscienceresearchchemistry

Read original article » Back to category

Comments

Author: Guest
Posted: 2015-12-08
+1
Great work of outstanding significance! Discovery of prion-based proteins involved in memory is opening new avenues in research and more high impact findings are likely to follow
1 Replies
Author: Guest
Posted: 2015-12-08
+0
This is indeed of great importance for further advances in neuroscience. Well done! Reply
Reply


 

Recent headlines

  • Posted in Business on 2017-05-26 15:00:47
    Solar jobs growing 17 times faster than US economy..read more
    Posted in Science on 2017-05-26 14:50:23
    Schiaparelli: Crashed lander was ill-prepared for Mars..read more
    Posted in Science on 2017-05-26 14:46:05
    New Zealand space launch is first from a private site..read more
    Posted in Medicine on 2017-05-25 15:31:42
    Too Much Sleep Could Signal Dementia..read more
    Posted in Business on 2017-05-25 15:26:18
    India cancels plans for huge coal power stations as solar.....read more
Posted in Business on 2013-10-10 01:33
China is working towards a manned lunar mission in about.....read more
Posted in Business on 2013-10-20 07:17
Spacex says China is their main competitor for commercial.....read more
Posted in Software on 2013-10-20 06:43
Pirate Bay Browser Clocks 1,000,000 Downloads..read more
Posted in Medicine on 2013-10-10 02:10
Google reportedly investing hundreds of millions into new.....read more
Posted in Medicine on 2013-10-14 03:13
Endothelial Cells Can Repair and Regenerate Organs,.....read more
Posted in Science on 01.01.2010
Spacex says China is their main competitor for commercial.....read more
Posted in Science on 01.01.2010
Staring at Your Phone Could Be Making You Short Sighted..read more
Posted in Science on 01.01.2010
Oculus Rift virtual reality headset coming to mobile, but.....read more
Posted in Science on 01.01.2010
China is working towards a manned lunar mission in about.....read more
Posted in Science on 01.01.2010
Delivering drugs via nanoparticles to target mitochondria..read more

Recent Blog Posts

  • Posted by AlexMuller
    Nanoparticle vaccine shows potential as immunotherapy to fight.....read more
    Posted by AlexMuller
    Obesity is top cause of preventable life-years lost, study shows..read more
    Posted by AlexMuller
    Light can be utilized to control gene function..read more
    Posted by AlexMuller
    Brain stimulation restores memory during lapses, research shows..read more
    Posted by AlexMuller
    Wax worm caterpillar will eat plastic shopping bags: New.....read more

Login to your Account

Login to your PlanetTech Account here

Username:
Password:
Remember me
or

Create a New Account

You just need username and password

The following errors occured:
Username:
Email:
Password:
Verify password:
Remember me