Under a microscope, it can be hard to tell the difference between any two neurons, the brain cells that store and process information. So scientists have turned to molecular methods to try to identify groups of neurons with different functions. Professor and HHMI Investigator Joseph Ecker, Senior Staff Scientist Margarita Behrens, Research Associate Chongyuan Luo and collaborators have, for the first time, profiled chemical modifications of DNA molecules in individual neurons, giving the most detailed information yet on what makes one brain cell different from its neighbor. The work appeared in Science on August 10, 2017.
Partnership for a healthy brain
Professor Rusty Gage, Professor and Chief Science Officer Martin Hetzer, first author Tomohisa Toda and colleagues have discovered that an interaction between two key proteins in the cell nucleus helps regulate and maintain the cells that produce neurons. The work, published in Cell Stem Cell on September 14, 2017, offers insight into why an imbalance between these precursor cells and neurons might contribute to mental illness or age-related brain disease. The immune system automatically destroys dysfunctional cells such as cancer cells, but cancerous tumors often survive nonetheless.Read News Release
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