2023 Brain Award for Synaptic Plasticity Research

Brain Prize Awarded to Synaptic Plasticity Studies
Brain Prize Awarded to Synaptic Plasticity Studies - TOP: Left to Right: Michael Greenberg, Erin Schuman and Christine Holt, this year's Brain Award winners JOHN SOARES | MAX PLANCK INSTITUTE OF BRAIN RESEARCH / G. LAURENT | UNIVERSITY OF CAMBRIDGE

A group of neuroscientists from around the world have won the €1.3 million Brain Prize, according to a statement by the Lundbeck Foundation. The Brain Award, the highest award in neuroscience, was awarded to three researchers for their overall contributions to the field of brain plasticity.

Found the Most Prestigious Award Winners in Neuroscience

Considered the most prestigious award in neuroscience, the prize worth DKK 10 million (approximately €1,3 million or US$1,45 million) will be split between neuroscientists Christine Holt, Michael Greenberg and Erin Schuman. The award is presented annually by the Lundbeck Foundation in Denmark to honor extraordinarily important and noteworthy developments in brain research. The award presentation will take place in Copenhagen later this year.

According to Richard Morris, a neurologist at the University of Edinburgh and chair of the committee, the winners' research has had "enormous scientific impact."

The Brain Award recognizes three scientists' work on the molecular underpinnings of neural plasticity—the brain's ability to reorganize connections as it learns, develops, recovers from injury, and adapts to new information.

The cFos gene and its accompanying protein, a transcription factor called Fos, were discovered.

Each of the three experts is investigating the individual elements of protein production in neurons in the context of synaptic plasticity. In his early research, Harvard Medical School neuroscientist Greenberg discovered the cFos gene and its companion protein, a transcription factor called Fos.

He went on to show that neuronal activity initiates the production of genes related to synaptic plasticity by stimulating the expression of Fos.

He went on to show how neural activity triggers the expression of Fos, which in turn causes the production of genes involved in synaptic plasticity, resulting in long-lasting changes in connectivity. The assumption that gene editing is a gradual process is changing with the extraordinarily fast timelines Fos is working on. Greenberg has spent his entire career investigating how sensory-related activity shapes the brain's wiring, and has identified several additional regulatory components that regulate long-term synaptic changes crucial to memory formation, behavior, and development.

While Greenberg has shown that Fos and other genes influence long-term synaptic plasticity, researchers were puzzled by how synaptic plasticity is maintained at individual synapses located outside the nucleus. Schuman, who is now head of the Max Planck Institute in Germany, was interested in this riddle.

Schuman was the first to demonstrate in 1996 that local protein translation at these distant synapses is necessary to strengthen synaptic connectivity; This mechanism takes place in the nucleus, where mRNAs are first produced, without any genetic changes. At a press conference before the announcement, Schuman explains that “the solution to the neuron is to send mRNAs from the nucleus to the axons”; “Once the mRNAs are in the processes, proteins can be made on demand.” Continuing to investigate the impact of local protein expression and degradation on synaptic plasticity ever since, Schuman's work has implications for conditions such as Tuberous Sclerosis and Fragile X Syndrome.

Holt is a neuroscientist at the University of Cambridge in England who studies how connections are initially formed in the developing brain and then maintained over time. His research on the vertebrate visual system revealed that proteins are produced and destroyed in the growth cone, the end point of the axon, where neurons head to their targets during development. Similar to Schuman's findings, Holt's research also highlighted the importance of local translation in the formation and maintenance of brain axons.

The researchers' collaborative work "tells a nice story," says Morris. First, Greenberg's research shows that “the activity of neurons can influence gene transcription.” Schuman and Holt next show how gene transcription “creates RNAs that are transported to the periphery to do the job of modifying synapses.”

The work of these three experts has enhanced our knowledge of the genetic underpinnings of different neurodevelopmental and neurodegenerative diseases, although research is fundamentally basic science. According to Holt, the discovery that messenger RNA is associated with neurodegenerative diseases was "one of the surprises of the past few years." Holt says defects in mRNA translation at the synapse are linked to both Alzheimer's disease and fragile X syndrome.

Morris argues that the results of the study will have various [translational] repercussions; We're starting to notice some of these already, but there will be more examples in the years to come.

Source: the-scientist.com/news-opinion – Natalia Mesa, PhD

Günceleme: 23/03/2023 23:30

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