Nanotechnology Now

Our NanoNews Digest Sponsors

Heifer International

Wikipedia Affiliate Button

Home > Press > Researchers show how cells open 'doors' to release neurotransmitters

A schematic model of a fusion pore opening.
A schematic model of a fusion pore opening.

Abstract:
Like opening a door to exit a room, cells in the body open up their outer membranes to release such chemicals as neurotransmitters and other hormones.

Cornell researchers have shed new light on this lightning-quick, impossibly small-scale process, called exocytosis, by casting sharp focus on what happens right at the moment the "doors" on the cell wall open.

By Anne Ju

Researchers show how cells open 'doors' to release neurotransmitters

Ithaca, NY | Posted on October 13th, 2010

Publishing online Oct. 11 in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, researchers led by Cornell's Manfred Lindau used a combination of molecular biology, electrophysiology, microfabricated electrochemical sensors and advanced microscopy to elucidate exocytosis of noradrenaline. This is a neurotransmitter released from the adrenal gland by a type of neuroendocrine cell called a chromaffin cell.

Lindau, professor of applied and engineering physics, studies the properties of exocytosis by looking at how packets of chemicals called vesicles adhere to the cell wall and open the door between the vesicle interior and cell's exterior. This "door" is called the fusion pore.

"Biochemists have been working on experiments to identify what proteins and molecules are the main players in this mechanism of release," Lindau said.

It turns out that neurotransmitter release is largely regulated by a set of proteins called SNARE proteins, and one called synaptobrevin is located on the cell's vesicle membrane. The synaptobrevins bind with other proteins called syntaxin and SNAP-25, which are located in the plasma membrane that encloses the cell. When the cell is excited and the neurotransmitter release is triggered, these proteins together are believed to open the fusion pore.

Lindau's team of researchers used genetically altered mouse embryos that lacked synaptobrevin and introduced viruses with modified versions of the protein into their experiments. They then imaged and studied the release function of the cells for the different versions of the synaptobrevins.

They discovered that one end of the synaptobrevin -- the part that anchors it in the vesicle membrane -- is pulled deeper into the vesicle membrane when the cell is stimulated. This movement is what temporarily changes the structure of the membrane and allows the opening of the fusion pore and neurotransmitter release. It had previously been thought that the fusion pore originates by an indirect effect of the SNARE protein in the membrane lipids. Lindau's experiments have shown that the vesicle membrane component of synaptobrevin is the active part of the molecular nanomachine that forms the fusion pore.

To continue visualizing the molecular details of this complex process, Lindau is working on sabbatical at the University of Oxford with professor Mark Sansom on molecular dynamics and computer simulations of the SNARE proteins and neurotransmitter exocytosis.

The research published in PNAS was funded primarily by the National Institutes of Health and the Cornell Nanobiotechnology Center, which is supported by the National Science Foundation. The paper's authors include former Cornell graduate students Annita Ngatchou and Kassandra Kisler, postdoctoral associates Qinghua Fang and Yong Zhao, and collaborators from the Max Planck Institute for Biophysical Chemistry, the University of Saarland in Germany and the University of Copenhagen.

####

For more information, please click here

Contacts:
Media Contact:
Joe Schwartz
(607) 254-6235


Cornell Chronicle:
Anne Ju
(607) 255-9735

Copyright © Cornell University

If you have a comment, please Contact us.

Issuers of news releases, not 7th Wave, Inc. or Nanotechnology Now, are solely responsible for the accuracy of the content.

Bookmark:
Delicious Digg Newsvine Google Yahoo Reddit Magnoliacom Furl Facebook

Related News Press

News and information

Caught on camera -- chemical reactions 'filmed' at the single-molecule level March 22nd, 2017

Rare-earths become water-repellent only as they age March 22nd, 2017

Pulverizing e-waste is green, clean -- and cold: Rice, Indian Institute researchers use cryo-mill to turn circuit boards into separated powders March 21st, 2017

CRMGroup in Belgium uses a Deben three point bending stage in the development of new steel & coated steel products for automotive and other industrial applications March 21st, 2017

Govt.-Legislation/Regulation/Funding/Policy

Electro-optical switch transmits data at record-low temperatures: Operating at temperatures near absolute zero, switch could enable significantly faster data processing with lower power consumption March 20th, 2017

AIM Photonics Welcomes Coventor as Newest Member: US-Backed Initiative Taps Process Modeling Specialist to Enable Manufacturing of High-Yield, High-Performance Integrated Photonic Designs March 16th, 2017

Researchers develop groundbreaking process for creating ultra-selective separation membranes: Discovery could greatly improve energy-efficiency of separation and purification processes in the chemical and petrochemical industries March 15th, 2017

Nanogate Expands Sustainability Management: Nanogate publishes a statement of compliance with the German Sustainability Code for the first time March 15th, 2017

Academic/Education

AIM Photonics Welcomes Coventor as Newest Member: US-Backed Initiative Taps Process Modeling Specialist to Enable Manufacturing of High-Yield, High-Performance Integrated Photonic Designs March 16th, 2017

Nominations Invited for $250,000 Kabiller Prize in Nanoscience: Major international prize recognizes a visionary nanotechnology researcher February 20th, 2017

Oxford Nanoimaging report on how the Nanoimager, a desktop microscope delivering single molecule, super-resolution performance, is being applied at the MRC Centre for Molecular Bacteriology & Infection November 22nd, 2016

The University of Applied Sciences in Upper Austria uses Deben tensile stages as an integral part of their computed tomography research and testing facility October 18th, 2016

Molecular Machines

First 3-D observation of nanomachines working inside cells: Researchers headed by IRB Barcelona combine genetic engineering, super-resolution microscopy and biocomputation to allow them to see in 3-D the protein machinery inside living cells January 27th, 2017

Micro-bubbles make big impact: Research team develops new ultrasound-powered actuator to develop micro robot November 25th, 2016

Scientists come up with light-driven motors to power nanorobots of the future: Researchers from Russia and Ukraine propose a nanosized motor controlled by a laser with potential applications across the natural sciences and medicine November 11th, 2016

HKU chemists develop world's first light-seeking synthetic Nanorobot November 9th, 2016

Nanomedicine

Nanoparticle paves the way for new triple negative breast cancer drug March 20th, 2017

Block copolymer micellization as a protection strategy for DNA origami March 17th, 2017

Nanocages for gold particles: what is happening inside? March 16th, 2017

Biophysicists propose new approach for membrane protein crystallization March 8th, 2017

Announcements

Caught on camera -- chemical reactions 'filmed' at the single-molecule level March 22nd, 2017

Rare-earths become water-repellent only as they age March 22nd, 2017

Pulverizing e-waste is green, clean -- and cold: Rice, Indian Institute researchers use cryo-mill to turn circuit boards into separated powders March 21st, 2017

CRMGroup in Belgium uses a Deben three point bending stage in the development of new steel & coated steel products for automotive and other industrial applications March 21st, 2017

Nanobiotechnology

Nanoparticle paves the way for new triple negative breast cancer drug March 20th, 2017

Block copolymer micellization as a protection strategy for DNA origami March 17th, 2017

Nanocages for gold particles: what is happening inside? March 16th, 2017

Biophysicists propose new approach for membrane protein crystallization March 8th, 2017

NanoNews-Digest
The latest news from around the world, FREE



  Premium Products
NanoNews-Custom
Only the news you want to read!
 Learn More
NanoTech-Transfer
University Technology Transfer & Patents
 Learn More
NanoStrategies
Full-service, expert consulting
 Learn More











ASP
Nanotechnology Now Featured Books




NNN

The Hunger Project