UC Davis Researchers May Have Unlocked Function of Mysterious Structures Found on Neurons in Hippocampus; Unusual Clusters Are Calcium-Signaling “Hotspots” That Activate Gene Transcription, Allowing Neurons to Produce Crucial Proteins

For 30 years, mysterious clusters of proteins found on the cell body of neurons in the hippocampus, a part of the brain, both intrigued and baffled James Trimmer (photo), PhD. Now, the Distinguished Professor of Physiology and Membrane Biology at the University of California (UC) Davis School of Medicine may finally have an answer. In a new study published on November 16, 2021 in PNAS, Dr. Trimmer and his colleagues reveal these protein clusters are calcium signaling “hotspots” in the neuron that play a crucial role in activating gene transcription. The open-access PNAS article is titled “Regulation of Neuronal Excitation-Transcription Coupling by Kv2.1-Induced Clustering of Somatic L-Type Ca2+ Channels at ER-PM Junctions. Transcription allows portions of the neuron’s DNA to be “transcribed” into strands of messenger RNA (mRNA) that are then used to create the proteins needed by the cell. Video Warning: This video contains flashes of lights, which may be inappropriate for people who are photosensitive.
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