As is the case with more than a few scientific discoveries, the researchers came across their finding by chance. Taha's doctorate thesis, which she is undertaking at Prof. Rosenblum's laboratory for research of molecular and cellular mechanisms underlying learning and memory in the Sagol Department of Neurobiology at the University of Haifa, focuses on the study of the underlying processes behind the creation and preservation of memories. More specifically, she is examining the control of RNA to protein translation. In the present study, the researchers examined what happens to a mouse who has undergone genetic modification causing the total noexpression of the protein eEF2K; previous studies have shown that damage to this protein causes damage to memory. These mice underwent a long series of behavioral tests. None of the tests identified damage to the consolidation of memory, with the exception of one specific type of memory: context memory -- the memory created relating to the context (usually the spatial context) of learning. These experiments found specific damage to the function of an area known as the hippocampus.
The researchers then sought to examine the electro-physiological and molecular biology activity in the brains of these mice. They found that the hippocampus shows increased expression of a sub-unit of a receptor called GABAAR. This receptor is located in the membrane of the nerve cell, and its hyperactivity causes cells to be less active, thereby delaying information rather than transmitting it. In addition, elevated expression of the protein synapsin2b was also found. This protein is key modulator of neurotransmitter release in neurons.
Change - Translation - Control - Element - EEF2K
"We realized that, surprisingly, the change in the general translation control element, eEF2K, changes the excitation/inhibition ratio in a specific area of the brain," Taha explains. "This area...
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