Special protein helps maintain an efficient brain

May 19th, 2009 - 6:21 pm ICT by IANS  

Washington, May 19 (IANS) Synaptotagmin-IV is a special protein known to influence learning and memory and may help maintain an efficient brain, according to a new study.
University of Wisconsin-Madison (UWM) researchers study showed that Synaptotagmin (Syt-IV) keeps the strength of synapses - connections between nerve cells where communication occurs - within a useful range of neither too strong nor too weak.

Synapses’ ability to adjust over time by becoming bigger and stronger or smaller and weaker - their plasticity - is at the heart of remembering, forgetting and learning. A delicate balance is required for this optimal brain plasticity.

The findings may be useful in the future for treating neurodegenerative disorders such as Alzheimer’s disease and Parkinson’s disease as well as epileptic seizures. Early stages of these disorders may stem from synaptic deficits.

“If a drug or genetic treatment could be designed to control Syt-IV expression and modify its effect on other key players involved in synaptic function, synapses might work better,” said senior study author Edwin R. Chapman, a Howard Hughes Medical Institute professor at the UW-Madison School of Medicine and Public Health (SMPH).

Camin Dean, a postdoctoral fellow in Chapman’s physiology department laboratory at the SMPH, did most of the work on the study, said UWM researchers, said an UWM release.

The study appeared in Nature Neuroscience’s advanced online publication last Saturday.

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