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

 

Tracking large neural networks in the brain by making neurons glow

RATE THIS! +32
Posted in Science on 2nd Dec, 2016 04:04 PM by AlexMuller

A new kind of bioluminescent sensor developed by Vanderbilt scientists causes individual brain cells to glow in the dark, giving neuroscientists a new tool to track what’s happening in large neural networks in the brain. The sensor is a genetically modified form of luciferase, the enzyme that fireflies and other species use to produce light.

 
Traditional electrical techniques for recording the activity of neurons are limited to small numbers of neurons at a time. Instead, the new sensors use a new combination of optical techniques to record the activity of hundreds of neurons at the same time, according to Carl Johnson, Stevenson Professor of Biological Sciences, who headed the effort.
 
The research is a spinoff of the team’s research in bioluminescence* in the green alga Chlamydomonas. Johnson and his colleagues realized that if they could combine luminescence with optogenetics (which uses light to control cells, particularly neurons), they could create a powerful new tool for studying brain activity.
 
To create the new sensor, Johnson and his collaborators first genetically modified a type of luciferase obtained from a luminescent species of shrimp so that it would light up when exposed to calcium ions (their level  pikes briefly when a neuron receives an impulse from one of its neighbors). Then they attached a virus that infects and genetically modifies neurons.
 
They tested their new calcium sensor with an optogenetic protein called channelrhodopsin that causes the calcium ion channels in the neuron’s outer membrane to open, flooding the cell with calcium. Using neurons grown in culture they found that the luminescent enzyme reacted visibly to the influx of calcium produced when the probe was stimulated by brief light flashes of visible light.
 
To determine how well their sensor works with larger numbers of neurons, they inserted it into brain slices from mouse hippocampus containing thousands of neurons. In this case, they flooded the slices with an increased concentration of potassium ions, which causes the cell’s ion channels to open. Again, they found that the sensor responded to the variations in calcium concentrations by brightening and dimming.
 
“We’ve shown that the approach works,” Johnson said. “Now we have to determine how sensitive it is. We have some indications that it is sensitive enough to detect the firing of individual neurons, but we have to run more tests to determine if it actually has this capability.”
 
The research is described in a paper published in the open-access journal Nature Communications on Oct. 27 and was funded by the National Institutes of Health, the National Science Foundation, and a grant from the Vanderbilt Brain Institute.
 
* There have also been efforts in optical recording of neurons using fluorescence, but this requires a strong external light source which can cause the tissue to heat up and can interfere with some biological processes, particularly those that are light sensitive, Johnson explained. It would also interfere with the light used in optogenetics. In contrast, light in bioluminescence is produced by biochemical reactions (the light-emitting pigment luciferin and the enzyme luciferase).

Tags: brainneuroscienceresearchbiologyanatomy

Read original article » Back to category

Comments



 

Recent headlines

  • Posted in Business on 2017-06-25 14:44:38
    Microsoft wants to make Direct Reality VR’s answer to.....read more
    Posted in Medicine on 2017-06-25 14:31:51
    UK's first heart pump targets 2018 clinical trial..read more
    Posted in Software on 2017-06-24 14:42:11
    Google to make quantum computer faster than classical.....read more
    Posted in Business on 2017-06-24 14:31:46
    SpaceX successfully launches and lands a used rocket for.....read more
    Posted in Software on 2017-06-24 14:15:18
    Yale and Oxford researchers say 50% chance AI will.....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