Links Between Protein Involved in Memory Formation And Psychiatric Disorders Found By Study

by Rukmani Krishna on  June 18, 2013 at 10:31 PM Research News
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Psychiatric disorders were linked to a protein involved in the formation of long-term memories by a new study.
 Links Between Protein Involved in Memory Formation And Psychiatric Disorders Found By Study
Links Between Protein Involved in Memory Formation And Psychiatric Disorders Found By Study

The study conducted by a team of scientists led by Alexei Morozov at the Virginia Tech Carilion Research Institute, has discovered a pathway by which the brain controls a molecule critical to forming long-term memories and connected with bipolar disorder and schizophrenia.

The mechanism - a protein called Rap1 - controls L-type calcium channels, which participate in the formation of long-term memories.

In the experiment, Morozov and colleagues knocked out the gene responsible for coding the enzyme Rap1, which he suspected played a role in activating L-type calcium channels.

The researchers then used live imaging techniques to monitor the release of neurotransmitters and electron microscopy to visualize L-type channels at synapses.

They discovered that, without Rap1, the L-type calcium channels were more active and more abundant at synapses all the time, increasing the release of neurotransmitters.

The results showed that Rap1 is responsible for suppressing L-type calcium channels, allowing them to activate only at the proper moments, possibly during long-term memory formation.

Source: ANI

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