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Researchers Discover That A Protein Couple Controls Flow Of Information Into The Brain

Update Date: Jul 25, 2014 03:54 PM EDT
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Scientists have discovered that a protein couple, namely ‘CKAMP44’ and ‘TARP Gamma-8’, controls the flow of information into the brain's memory center. The findings suggest a link between nerve cells at the interface to the hippocampus.

Researchers analyzed tissue samples from mice to identify how the two proteins acted upon the brain's memory center.

These molecules, which have similar counterparts in humans, affect the connections between nerve cells and influence the transmission of nerve signals into the hippocampus, an area of the brain that plays a significant role in learning processes and the creation of memories, the press release added.

“We looked at AMPA receptors in an area of the brain, which constitutes the main entrance to the hippocampus,” explained Dr Jakob von Engelhardt, who works for the DZNE and DKFZ, in the press release. “The hippocampus is responsible for learning and memory formation. Among other things it processes and combines sensory perception. We therefore asked ourselves how the flow of information into the hippocampus is controlled.”

Proteins CKAMP44 and TARP Gamma-8 are present along with AMPA receptors in the 'granule' cells - neurons that receive signals from areas outside of the hippocampus.

“We have now found out that they exert a significant influence on the functioning of glutamate receptors. Each in its own way, as chemically they are completely different,” added Engelhardt. “We identified that the ability of a nerve cell to receive signals doesn’t depend solely on the actual receptors; CKAMP44 and TARP Gamma-8 are just as important. Their function cannot be separated from that of the receptors.”

The findings of the study have been published in the journal Neuron.

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