Source: Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory
Summary: Researchers for the first time describe how baby neurons make an incredible journey from their place of birth to their target destination.
In the modern neuroscience, one of the most hopeful discoveries is firm proof that our brain is not static after birth. It continuously renews itself through a process called postnatal neurogenesis (birth of new neurons). This starts not long after birth and continues into old age. Postnatally, replenishment of neurons occurs only in two parts of our brain, one is the hippocampus (central in learning and memory) and the other is the olfactory bulb (involved in olfaction, sense of smell). Professor Linda Van Aelst and colleagues at Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory (CSHL) for the first time describe how baby neurons make an incredible journey from their place of birth to their target destination. The study was published in the Journal of Cell Biology.
Researchers have found (in mice) that the baby neurons called the neuroblasts are produced from a permanent pocket of in the brain area, V-SVZ (subventricular zone) and make a journey from their place of birth via a special tunnel called the RMS (rostral migratory stream) and reach their target destination in the olfactory bulb. They travel as far as 8mm, which is a huge distance considering how tiny is the mouse’s brain. Two forces, one pulling from the front, the other pushing from behind are responsible the journey. These two steps are orchestrated by a single protein called DOCK7. Knowing how the replenishment process works will enhance natural neurogenesis to repair damaged tissue or treat brain disorders.
More Information: Shinichi Nakamuta et al, “Dual role for DOCK7 in tangential migration of interneuron precursors in the postnatal forebrain”, The Journal of Cell Biology, (2017). DOI: 10.1083/jcb.201704157