Nav: Home

Unique fingerprint: What makes nerve cells unmistakable?

September 02, 2019

Protein variations that result from the process of alternative splicing control the identity and function of nerve cells in the brain. This allows organisms to build a highly complex neuronal network with only a limited number of genes. The study describing a detailed map of neuronal splicing conducted by a research team at the Biozentrum, University of Basel, has now been published in Nature Neuroscience.

Our brain consists of hundreds, if not thousands, of different types of nerve cells that control our brain functions due to their individual characteristics. But how do the different cell types manage to develop their diverse traits? In a genome-wide analysis, the team led by Prof. Peter Scheiffele at the Biozentrum, University of Basel, has now discovered that alternative splicing leads to a broad range of variants of individual proteins, which ultimately allows to distinguish types of nerve cells.

Alternative splicing determines cell types

Alternative splicing can generate multiple different protein variants from a single gene. In the mouse model, Scheiffele's team investigated splice variants in a panel of neuronal cell types. "We have been able to identify hundreds of splice variants that enable us to differentiate between different types of neurons," says Scheiffele. "There are unique repertoires of variants in each nerve cell type."

These repertoires of splice variants significantly shape the identity and function of nerve cells. "Although all neuronal cell types contain the same set of genes, even closely-related cell types produce different splice variants," explains Scheiffele. In particular, proteins located at the neuronal contact points - the synapses, which mediate the transmission and processing of information - are extremely diverse. Thus, the splicing process also controls the function of the neuronal circuits in the brain.

Data platform for scientists

The generation and analysis of the extensive data sets is part of the EU-funded project "SPLICECODE". In collaboration with the "Center for Scientific Computing" (sciCORE), a user-friendly website has been set up which allows scientists worldwide to investigate the role of individual splice variants in brain function.
-end-
Further information

Prof. Dr. Peter Scheiffele, University of Basel, Biozentrum, Tel. +41 61 207 21 94, Email: peter.scheiffele@unibas.ch

University of Basel

Related Nerve Cells Articles:

Unique fingerprint: What makes nerve cells unmistakable?
Protein variations that result from the process of alternative splicing control the identity and function of nerve cells in the brain.
Ragweed compounds could protect nerve cells from Alzheimer's
As spring arrives in the northern hemisphere, many people are cursing ragweed, a primary culprit in seasonal allergies.
Fooling nerve cells into acting normal
In a new study, scientists at the University of Missouri have discovered that a neuron's own electrical signal, or voltage, can indicate whether the neuron is functioning normally.
How nerve cells control misfolded proteins
Researchers have identified a protein complex that marks misfolded proteins, stops them from interacting with other proteins in the cell and directs them towards disposal.
The development of brain stem cells into new nerve cells and why this can lead to cancer
Stem cells are true Jacks-of-all-trades of our bodies, as they can turn into the many different cell types of all organs.
Research confirms nerve cells made from skin cells are a valid lab model for studying disease
Researchers from the Salk Institute, along with collaborators at Stanford University and Baylor College of Medicine, have shown that cells from mice that have been induced to grow into nerve cells using a previously published method have molecular signatures matching neurons that developed naturally in the brain.
Bees can count with just four nerve cells in their brains
Bees can solve seemingly clever counting tasks with very small numbers of nerve cells in their brains, according to researchers at Queen Mary University of London.
Nerve cells in the human brain can 'count'
How do we know if we're looking at three apples or four?
How rabies virus moves through nerve cells, and how it might be stopped
Researchers found that the rabies virus travels through neurons differently than other neuron-invading viruses, and that its journey can be stopped by a drug commonly used to treat amoebic dysentery.
Direct conversion of non-neuronal cells into nerve cells
Researchers of the Mainz University Medical Center discovered that on the way to becoming neurons pericytes need to go through a neural stem cell-like state.
More Nerve Cells News and Nerve Cells Current Events

Trending Science News

Current Coronavirus (COVID-19) News

Top Science Podcasts

We have hand picked the top science podcasts of 2020.
Now Playing: TED Radio Hour

Listen Again: Reinvention
Change is hard, but it's also an opportunity to discover and reimagine what you thought you knew. From our economy, to music, to even ourselves–this hour TED speakers explore the power of reinvention. Guests include OK Go lead singer Damian Kulash Jr., former college gymnastics coach Valorie Kondos Field, Stockton Mayor Michael Tubbs, and entrepreneur Nick Hanauer.
Now Playing: Science for the People

#562 Superbug to Bedside
By now we're all good and scared about antibiotic resistance, one of the many things coming to get us all. But there's good news, sort of. News antibiotics are coming out! How do they get tested? What does that kind of a trial look like and how does it happen? Host Bethany Brookeshire talks with Matt McCarthy, author of "Superbugs: The Race to Stop an Epidemic", about the ins and outs of testing a new antibiotic in the hospital.
Now Playing: Radiolab

Dispatch 6: Strange Times
Covid has disrupted the most basic routines of our days and nights. But in the middle of a conversation about how to fight the virus, we find a place impervious to the stalled plans and frenetic demands of the outside world. It's a very different kind of front line, where urgent work means moving slow, and time is marked out in tiny pre-planned steps. Then, on a walk through the woods, we consider how the tempo of our lives affects our minds and discover how the beats of biology shape our bodies. This episode was produced with help from Molly Webster and Tracie Hunte. Support Radiolab today at Radiolab.org/donate.