DNA damage may cause ALS

New study finds link between neurons’ inability to repair DNA and neurodegeneration. Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) — also known as Lou Gehrig’s disease — is a neurodegenerative disease that destroys the neurons that control muscle movement. There is no cure for ALS, which kills most patients within three to five years of the onset of.. read more →

Histone acetylation: molecular mnemonics on the chromatin

Long-lasting memories require specific gene expression programmes that are, in part, orchestrated by epigenetic mechanisms. Of the epigenetic modifications identified in cognitive processes, histone acetylation has spurred considerable interest. Whereas increments in histone acetylation have consistently been shown to favour learning and memory, a lack thereof has been causally implicated in cognitive impairments in neurodevelopmental.. read more →

Li-Huei Tsai: I well remember

Tsai studies how Cdk5 activity affects brain development, learning, and memory. Cdk5 is a kinase expressed mainly in neurons, where it helps regulate the activity of a whole host of downstream targets, including ion channels and synaptic scaffold proteins. Thus, it’s perhaps to be expected that Cdk5 dysregulation is associated with many neuropathologies. Li-Huei Tsai.. read more →

Re-opening the Memory Book

Following the completion of the Human Genome Project, much of biology’s focus has been shifted from the raw sequence of genes to their regulation over time and in response to environmental stimuli. Like books on a shelf, genes do not exert effects by their mere presence; rather, the pages of the book (i.e., the chromatin).. read more →

Tsai Lab researchers identify brain cell aberration tied to autism

A gene linked to autism spectrum disorders (ASD) actually alters individual brain cells’ ability to process information, researchers at MIT’s Picower Institute for Learning and Memory report in the June 10 advance online edition of Nature Neuroscience. The finding focuses on a faulty molecular mechanism that may underlie ASD’s cognitive impairments. The discovery could lead to.. read more →

Reversing Alzheimer’s gene ‘blockade’ can restore memory, other cognitive functions

Neuroscientists show that HDAC2 enzyme could be a good target for new drugs. MIT neuroscientists have shown that an enzyme overproduced in the brains of Alzheimer’s patients creates a blockade that shuts off genes necessary to form new memories. Furthermore, by inhibiting that enzyme in mice, the researchers were able to reverse Alzheimer’s symptoms. The.. read more →

Unraveling how a mutation can lead to psychiatric illness

MIT neuroscientists show that a gene linked with schizophrenia and bipolar disorder impairs early brain development. In recent years, scientists have discovered several genetic mutations associated with greater risk of psychiatric diseases such as schizophrenia and bipolar disorder. One such mutation, known as DISC1 — an abbreviation for “Disrupted in Schizophrenia-1” — was first identified.. read more →