Here comes a new protein to modify brain activity

The GFE3 protein may help researchers map the brain's connections and better understand how inhibitory synapses modulate brain function, said lead author Don Arnold, Professor at University of Southern California.

Zee Media Bureau

New Delhi: Scientists from the University of Southern California have developed a new protein that can be helpful in modifying memory in some ways.

The GFE3 protein may help researchers map the brain's connections and better understand how inhibitory synapses modulate brain function, said lead author Don Arnold, Professor at University of Southern California.

The new tool is a protein that can be encoded in animal genomes to effectively switch off their inhibitory synapses -- connections between neurons -- increasing their electrical activity.

It also may enable them to control neural activity and lead to advancements in research for diseases or conditions ranging from schizophrenia to cocaine addiction, Arnold said.

"GFE3 harnesses a little known and remarkable property of proteins within the brain," Arnold said.

The protein takes advantage of an intrinsic process -- the brain's cycle of degrading and replacing proteins.

Most brain proteins last only a couple of days before they are actively degraded and replaced by new proteins. GFE3 targets proteins that hold inhibitory synapses together to this degradation system and as a result, the synapses fall apart.

"Rather than a cell deciding when a protein needs to be degraded, we sort of hijack the process," Arnold explained.

(With IANS inputs)

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