Cell Reports - Kavitha Abiraman
Civitan International/ Simpson-Ramsey Neurodevelopment Symposium
-The Civitan International/Simpson-Ramsey Neurodevelopmental Symposium will be held April 21 - 22, 2016 at the UAB Alumni Building. The two day event will consist of lectures and a poster session presenting the latest findings on various topics regarding developmental and intellectual disabilities.
-Researchers will discuss recent progress and a panel of experts in the fields of genetics, animal models of developmental disorders, brain imaging and clinical practice will present their research findings. The event will stimulate productive discussions in the basic and clinical sciences and promote collaborations to develop new, more effective therapies.
-Registration will open soon.
Day Selected for Pittman Scholars Award
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Top Scientific Discoveries of 2015
Neurons Alter DNA All Day, Every Day
They turn certain genes on and off when forming memories.By Andy Berger|Monday, November 30, 2015
RELATED TAGS: MENTAL HEALTH
The brain is quite the circus act: It constantly juggles the complex job of processing a daily barrage of new experiences with the equally daunting task of storing memories. But scientists never understood how it managed to pull this off. Now, two studies published in June reveal it’s because neurons, brain cells that transmit messages, alter their DNA constantly.
The trick is methylation and demethylation — adding and removing chemical tags called methyl groups to specific locations on DNA that turn genes on and off without editing the genetic code itself.
Researchers recently discovered that adult mouse neurons methylate and demethylate — startling, since experts thought methylation happened only during brain development and then became permanent, to establish cells’ identities. Given these findings, University of Alabama at Birmingham neurobiologist David Sweatt and Johns Hopkins University neurobiologist Hongjun Song wondered if methyl groups affected long-term memory formation.
The researchers knew that neurons fire at a steady rate to form memories but also that new experiences can overstimulate them. To mimic a learning experience and see how neurons keep their activity in check, each team tweaked rat or mouse neurons’ firing rates, genetically or with drugs. To cope, the neurons used methylation and demethylation like a volume knob, constantly adjusting the signal strength of connected neurons by turning on or off the genes that make the signal receptors. This knowledge brings us one step closer to understanding memory at the molecular level.