According to a recent study researchers might be able to isolates molecule that would be helpful and responsible for learning and memory.
The revolutionary study has been done independently by teams from Harvard Medical School and Children's Hospital Boston and they have identified a master protein that shows how neurons change as a result of individual experiences.
Science (Feb 17) features the two studies in which the teams have identified a central protein that regulates the growth and pruning of neurons throughout life in response to environmental stimuli. This protein, and the molecular pathway it guides, could help investigators understand the process of learning and memory.
The protein, myocyte enhancer factor 2 (MEF2), turns on and off genes that control dendritic remodeling. In addition, one of the teams has identified how MEF2 switches from one program to the other, that is, from dendrite-promoting to dendrite-pruning, and the researchers have identified some of MEF2's targets.
In the words of Azad Bonni, MD, PhD, HMS Associate Professor of Pathology, "Changes in the morphology of synapses could turn out to be very important in a whole host of diseases including neurodegenerative as well as psychiatric disorders."
He has with colleagues, authored one of the papers.
The protein works by either activating or actively repressing target genes.
In fact, Greenberg is currently a member of a consortium that is trying to get at the molecular underpinnings of autism. "We think the MEF2 pathway may be central." said Dr. Greenberg.
This research could pave a way for furthering studies in treatments for brain related disorders.