News from CRG
Research published in Science Advances sheds new light on the molecular machinery that enables the shape, growth and movement of neurons. It is the first time scientists have revealed how the brain shuttles genetic code within its cells, a process believed to be crucial for the formation and storage of long-term memories.
Scientists at the Centre for Genomic Regulation (CRG) have found that a type of kinesin called KIF3A/B can transport mRNAs, using another protein called adenomatous polyposis coli (APC) as an adaptor that binds both the kinesin and the mRNA-cargo. The proteins transport at least two types of mRNA which code for tubulin and actin, two types of proteins that neurons use to build their cellular skeleton. This is essential to shape the cell so that it can form new connections with other neurons.
The findings are of interest because mRNAs play a key role in the storage and formation of memories. Previous studies show that mRNAs coding for the protein beta-actin continuously travel along synapses, the junction between two neurons. When synapses repeatedly receive a signal, the mRNA is used to make beta-actin proteins, which are important for reinforcing synapses and strengthening the attachment between two neurons. Repeatedly stimulating a synapse continuously reinforces the junction, which is thought to be how memories form.
Baumann S, Komissarov A, Gili M et al. A reconstituted mammalian APC-kinesin complex selectively transports defined packages of axonal mRNAs. 13 Mar 2020. Science Advances. Vol. 6, no. 11. DOI: 10.1126/sciadv.aaz1588