Identification of a Gene Important for Nerve Cell Regeneration

In an article published online November 1 in Cell Reports, researchers reported the identification of a protein responsible for regenerating axons after injury. Researchers used RNAi to knockdown the levels of four proteins involved in microtubule severing in Drosophila: fidgetin, katanin-60, katanin-60L1, and spastin. They found that knocking down katanin-60 or spastin caused the largest defects in axon regeneration. However, when they tested axon regeneration in Drosophilia that were heterozygous or null for mutations in either katanin-60 or spastin, it was the flies with either 1 or 2 mutant copies of spastin that showed the greatest defects in axon regeneration. In addition, the team found that axon regrowth was sensitive to spastin dosing, as spastin overexpression reduced axonal regrowth. Dr. Melissa Rolls, an assistant professor of biochemistry and molecular biology at Penn State, and senior author of the study said, "We are hopeful that this discovery will open the door to new research related to spinal-cord and other neurological disorders in humans." Read more about the story here.

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