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UT Southwestern researchers ID key protein for communication within central nervous system

ossible applications could include therapies for spinal cord injuries."

The researchers identified the protein by searching the mouse genome for a candidate molecule that could form a bridge between neurons and recruit synaptic components. A model for synaptic transmission was created by artificially inducing synapses and performing a functional characterization using cultured neurons from laboratory mice. This is the first study in which a model was designed to artificially induce synaptic transmission, Biederer said.

When SynCAM was overexpressed the researchers reported an increase in spontaneous synaptic structures and spontaneous synaptic activity by as much as three-fold. When this function of SynCAM was interrupted, there was a decrease in the number of synapses and activity.

"We are now at the very core of what creates active neuronal networks and a functional central nervous system," Biederer said.

The researchers are currently studying other proteins that may be involved in this process.


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Contact: Amy Shields
Amy.Shields@UTSouthwestern.edu
214-648-3404
UT Southwestern Medical Center
3-Sep-2002


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