Tuesday, April 25, 2017
Neurons in the brain store RNA molecules – DNA gene copies – in order to rapidly react to stimuli. This storage dramatically accelerates the production of proteins. This is one of the reasons why neurons in the brain can adapt quickly during learning processes.
Our brain is not only the most complex organ of the human body, it is also the most flexible. But how do neurons in the brain adapt their function in response to stimuli within a very short time frame?
The research group of Prof. Peter Scheiffele at the Biozentrum, University of Basel, has demonstrated that neurons store a reserve stock of RNA molecules, copies of the DNA, in the cell’s nucleus. These RNA molecules form the blueprint for new proteins. After a neuronal stimulus the stored RNA molecules are mobilized in order to adjust the function of the neuron. The process of RNA synthesis (DNA copying) is very slow especially for large genes. Thus, this newly uncovered mechanism for mobilization of stored RNAs saves time and provides new insights regarding the fast adaptation of the brain during learning processes.