April 14, 2017 – Cell Trash


Anchor lead:  What used to be thought of as cellular trash turns out to have a function, Elizabeth Tracey reports

What used to be thought of as a cellular garbage disposal now turns out to have a communication function in your nervous system, research by Kapil Ramachandran and Seth Margolis at Johns Hopkins has shown. Ramachandran describes the results.

Ramachandran: Every cell in your body has proteins. Those proteins are born and they die. The mechanism by which these proteins die is essentially through this complex we call a proteasome and it works a lot like a paper shredder. In the nervous system we’ve figured out that this proteasome resides in a location that enables it to take these little fragments that come out of the other end and signal to other neurons.   :26

When this process was inhibited it turned out that neurons experienced disrupted signaling to each other, a vital function of nerve cells. Ramachandran and Margolis speculate that this signaling may be a kind of check-in among adjacent neurons. At Johns Hopkins, I’m Elizabeth Tracey.