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Lack of specific brain protein causes marked deficits in learning, memory

ice exhibited no behavioral deficits.

"The brain was able to compensate for the loss of these other two proteins, but it was not able to compensate for the lack of RIM1 alpha," Dr. Nestler said. "That tells us that RIM1 alpha is involved in so many important functions that, when it is missing, gross changes in behavior occur."

Proteins involved in the release of neurotransmitters are known as presynaptic proteins. In the past, postsynaptic proteins, as opposed to presynaptic proteins, were shown to play an active role in learning and memory. Postsynaptic proteins receive the neurotransmitters released by presynaptic proteins.

Dr. Nestler said that some of the abnormalities in learning in the mice lacking RIM1 alpha are reminiscent of symptoms commonly seen in people with schizophrenia.

"This could give us new insight into what's going wrong in the brains of people with schizophrenia a disorder that is still not at all well understood," Dr. Nestler said.


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Contact: Rachel Horton
rachel.horton@utsouthwestern.edu
214-648-3404
UT Southwestern Medical Center
7-Apr-2004


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