Fruit flies give researchers new insights into the ‘highway of the nerve cells’

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The nervous system is the web of the human physique and might in the similar manner switch indicators over lengthy distances in a short time. Some of the most essential parts on this signaling are the axons. They are projections of the nerve cells which ship indicators to different nerve cells or muscle groups. For occasion, axons that jut out from nerve cells in the spinal wire might be over one meter lengthy.

Researchers from the Faculty of Health and Medical Sciences at the University of Copenhagen have now in a new examine examined how sign molecules are transported in the axons.

“We have found out, that the protein Rab2 has to be present and functioning properly in order for the nerve cells to send effective signals between the central nervous system and the body. When we remove the protein in fruit flies we can see that the signal molecules are accumulate in the axons like in a traffic jam,” explains visiting researchers Viktor Karlovich Lund from the Department of Neuroscience.

Same or comparable mechanism in people

The researchers examine the transport of sign molecules in axons as a result of there are a number of diseases in people the place the transport is inhibited. This is true for neurodegenerative ailments akin to Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s illness, Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) and neuropathy. Changes in the Rab2 gene are additionally related to autism spectrum issues.

Even although one needs to be cautious drawing conclusions between species, the researchers suppose that they’ve good cause to consider that their discovery can also be related in people.

“We share around 75 percent of disease-related genes with fruit flies. Beyond that, we know that the genes coding for Rab2 look alike in many different species—they have a high degree of evolutionary conservation. This makes us quite convinced that the same mechanism or one very similar exists in the human nervous system,” says Ole Kjærulff, Associate Professor at the Department of Neuroscience.

The glue between cargo and engine

The signaling works by signaling molecules being transferred from one finish of the axons to different nerve cells.

“Some types of signals require that the signal molecules first travel very far in the same cell. They are packaged into small organelles with a membrane around them and then they are transported op to one meter or more. This requires a complex machinery where everything needs to run smoothly,” says Ole Kjærulff.

Inside the axons the ‘cargo’ is pulled by motor proteins that may be in comparison with small locomotives.

“Our best guess is that the Rab2 protein is the link between the motor proteins driving forward and the cargo being pulled. Almost like a molecular glue holding everything together,” says Viktor Karlovich Lund.

The researchers hope that their new discovery might be the basis for new makes an attempt to create medication concentrating on neurodegenerative ailments and neuropathy.


Cell biologists discover crucial ‘traffic regulator’ in neurons


More data:
Viktor Karlovich Lund et al, Rab2 drives axonal transport of dense core vesicles and lysosomal organelles, Cell Reports (2021). DOI: 10.1016/j.celrep.2021.108973

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University of Copenhagen


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Fruit flies give researchers new insights into the ‘freeway of the nerve cells’ (2021, April 16)
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