Transparent worms help understand nerve fusion

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Source: Pixabay
Source: Pixabay

Scientists have discovered the mechanism that allows severed nerves in the round worm, Caenorhabditis elegans to fuse back together again. These worms are easy to work with and to experiment with since they are transparent, simple in structure and the genetics of these worms are well known. The scientists feel that neurosurgery could be combined with molecular biology in the future to deliver clinical outcomes, and perhaps treat conditions such as spinal cord injury or vascular damage where healthy neurons are injured. This study reveals the dynamic changes in the subcellular localization of the membrane protein, EFF1, phosphatidylserine (PS) and the PS receptor (PSR-1). These three factors are critical for axonal/nerve fusion. PS functions as the ‘save me’ signal when a nerve is severed and TTR-52 (a secreted protein) binds to the exposed PS on the injured axon and helps restore fusion several hours after injury.  PSR-1 functions cell-autonomously in the re-growing neuron by acting in a phagocytic pathway instead of its canonical signalling pathway. This study could help better understand nerve fusion and help regenerative medicine in the future.

The original publication can be accessed at: http://www.nature.com/nature/journal/v517/n7533/full/nature14102.html

Disclaimer: This article does not reflect any personal views of the authors/editors.

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Scientist-entrepreneur-manager-journalist: -Co-founder, Author; Former Assistant Editor and Director, Biotechin.Asia, Biotech Media Pte. Ltd.; -Founder & CEO, SciGlo (www.sciglo.com); -Programme Management Officer, SBIC, A*STAR (former Research Fellow). --Sandhya graduated from University of Madras, India (B.Sc Microbiology and M.Sc Biotechnology) and received her Ph.D from the Nanyang Technological University, Singapore. She worked on oxidative stress in skin, skeletal, adipose tissue and cardiac muscle for a decade from 2006-2016. She is currently working as a Programme Management Officer handling projects and grants at Singapore Bioimaging Consortium (SBIC), Agency for Science, Technology and Research (A*STAR). Earlier to this she was a Research Fellow in the Fat Metabolism and Stem Cell Group at SBIC. Sandhya was also the Vice President and Publicity Chair of A*PECSS (A*STAR Post Doc Society) (2014-2016). Recently she founded a platform for scientists - SciGlo (www.sciglo.com) and is a startup mentor at Vertical VC (Finland). She is an ardent lover of science and enjoys globe trotting and good vegetarian food.