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Plasma membrane protein may help generate new neurons in the adult hippocampus

May 11, 2017

New research published online in The FASEB Journal sheds important light on the inner workings of learning and memory. Specifically, scientists show that a plasma membrane protein, called Efr3, regulates brain-derived neurotrophic factor-tropomyosin-related kinase B signaling pathway (BNDF-TrkB) and affects the generation of new neurons in the hippocampus of adult brains. In turn, this generation of new neurons plays a significant role in learning and memory.

"Our study demonstrates that Efr3a is associated with BDNF signaling and adult neurogenesis, which are important for learning and memory," said Binggui Sun, Ph.D., a researcher involved in the work at the Department of Neurobiology, Key Laboratory of Medical Neurobiology (Ministry of Health of China), Key Laboratory of Neurobiology of Zhejiang Province, Zhejiang University School of Medicine, Hangzhou, Zhejiang, China. "We hope our results will provide new insights into the mechanisms underlying learning and memory."

To draw their conclusions, Sun and colleagues bred Efr3af/f mice and then crossed these mice with another group to delete Efr3a, one of the Efr3 isoforms, specifically in the brain. Brain-specific ablation of Efr3a promoted adult hippocampal neurogenesis by increasing survival and maturation of newborn neurons without affecting their dendritic tree morphology. Also, the BDNF-TrkB signaling pathway was enhanced in the hippocampus of Efr3a-deficient mice, as reflected by increased expression of BDNF-TrkB, and the downstream molecules, including phospho-MAPK (mitogen-activated protein kinase) and phospho-Akt.

"This study once again emphasizes the extreme importance of neurogenesis specifically linked to neurotrophic signaling in the hippocampus." said Thoru Pederson, Ph.D., Editor-in-Chief of The FASEB Journal. "We are again reminded of how far we have come from the era in which neurogenesis in the adult mammalian brain was not believed to even occur."
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Submit to The FASEB Journal by visiting http://fasebj.msubmit.net, and receive monthly highlights by signing up at http://www.faseb.org/fjupdate.aspx. The FASEB Journal is published by the Federation of the American Societies for Experimental Biology (FASEB). It is among the world's most cited biology journals according to the Institute for Scientific Information and has been recognized by the Special Libraries Association as one of the top 100 most influential biomedical journals of the past century.

FASEB is composed of 30 societies with more than 125,000 members, making it the largest coalition of biomedical research associations in the United States. Our mission is to advance health and welfare by promoting progress and education in biological and biomedical sciences through service to our member societies and collaborative advocacy.

Details: Qi Qian, Qiuji Liu, Dongming Zhou, Hongyu Pan, Zhiwei Liu, Fangping He, Suying Ji, Dongpi Wang, Wangxiao Bao, Xinyi Liu, Zhaoling Liu, Heng Zhang, Xiaoqin Zhang, Ling Zhang, Mingkai Wang, Ying Xu, Fude Huang, Benyan Luo, and Binggui Sun. Brain-specific ablation of Efr3a promotes adult hippocampal neurogenesis via the brain-derived neurotrophic factor pathway. FASEB J. doi:10.1096/fj.201601207R ; http://www.fasebj.org/content/early/2017/02/20/fj.201601207R.abstract

Federation of American Societies for Experimental Biology

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