July 5, 2012

I’ve never run a marathon, but I’d imagine that it is a rollercoaster of feelings that finishes with a life “high” that is unbeatable. That’s how I feel when I read a paper from the journal Cell. They’re long, exhausting, sweat-inducing, and frequently some of the most rewarding paper-reading experiences a biologist can have. Today’s image is from a Cell paper that is so extensive in data, with a story that starts with protein localization and ends with a behavior study in mice.

Fibroblast growth factors (FGFs) are proteins that regulate several processes during development, such blood vessel growth and neurogenesis. A research group recently investigated the developmental role of FGF13, a growth factor believed to be connected to X-chromosome-linked mental retardation. Wu and colleagues found that FGF13 interacts with and stabilizes microtubules in cerebral cortical neurons during development. Through this interaction, FGF13 is required to polarize neurons—an event necessary for proper neuron migration and brain development. Finally, Wu and colleagues tracked the behavior of mice lacking FGF13, and found a reduced learning ability similar to that seen in X-chromosome-linked mental retardation patients. Images above show control (left) and FGF13-silenced (right) neurons in cerebral cortical slices. Without FGF13, neurons could not complete their radial migration in the tissue.

ResearchBlogging.orgWu QF, Yang L, Li S, Wang Q, Yuan XB, Gao X, Bao L, & Zhang X (2012). Fibroblast growth factor 13 is a microtubule-stabilizing protein regulating neuronal polarization and migration. Cell, 149 (7), 1549-64 PMID: 22726441
 Copyright ©2012 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.

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