It’s not always the DNA

Damage to DNA is an issue for all cells, particularly in cancer, where the mechanisms that repair damage typically fail. The same agents that damage DNA also damage its sister molecule messenger RNA (mRNA), which ferries transcripts of the genes to the tens of thousands of ribosomes in each cell. But little attention has been paid to this damage.

Zebrafish models for one-of-a-kind families

Susan Brooks had reached a dead end.

Brooks, a medical geneticist at Rutgers Robert Wood Johnson Medical School, was trying to diagnose a boy who had a genetic disorder she had never encountered before. The young patient showed delayed development, microcephaly, recurrent febrile illnesses, seizures, overall slow growth, and several minor craniofacial and limb malformations.

New Information about Neurons Could Lead to Advancements in Understanding Brain and Neurological Disorders

Neurons are electrically charged cells in the nervous system that interpret and transmit information using electrical and chemical signals. A neuron’s electrical charge is determined by the flow of ions – charged atoms – in and out of the cell through pores, called ion channels. These pores open, allowing ions to rush in, and then shut. The neuron becomes charged and “sparks” the next neuron in line.

Watching molecules morph into memories

Researchers at Albert Einstein College of Medicine of Yeshiva University used advanced imaging techniques to provide a window into how the brain makes memories. These insights into the molecular basis of memory were made possible by a technological tour de force never before achieved in animals: a mouse model developed at Einstein in which molecules crucial to making memories were given fluorescent “tags” so they could be observed traveling in real time in living brain cells.

Made to Order at the Synapse: Dynamics of Protein Synthesis at Neuron Tip is Basis for Memory and Learning

Knowing how proteins are made to order – as it were – at the synapse can help researchers better understand how memories are made. Nevertheless, the role of this “local” environment in regulating which messenger RNAs are translated into proteins in a neuron’s periphery is still a mystery.