Natures wonders: Parasite brain control (Introduction)

by David Turell @, Thursday, March 19, 2015, 14:06 (1435 days ago) @ David Turell

Toxoplasma Gondi is a parasite carried by rodents that can only reproduce in a cat's gut. The parasite causes rodents to lose their fear of cats:

http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2015/03/150318153918.htm

"Rodents infected with a common parasite lose their fear of cats, resulting in easy meals for the felines. Now IU School of Medicine researchers have identified a new way the parasite may modify brain cells, possibly helping explain changes in the behavior of mice -- and humans.

"Astrocytes are found throughout the brain and are involved in a variety of important brain structures and activities. Dr. Sullivan and his team evaluated the proteins in astrocyte cells and found 529 sites on 324 proteins where compounds called acetyl groups are added to proteins, creating a map called an "acetylome," much like a map of all the genes in a particular species is known as its "genome." In addition, 277 sites on 186 of the proteins had not been reported in previous studies of other types of cells. This process of acetylation can alter the function, location or other aspects of those proteins in the cells, providing new insight into how these cells operate in the brain.

"Having created the first acetylome for astrocytes, the researchers then found a significant number of proteins that were acetylated differently in brain tissue infected with Toxoplasma parasites."


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