Introducing the brain: a new discovery: (Introduction)

by David Turell @, Wednesday, November 23, 2022, 19:31 (6 days ago) @ David Turell

How the mammalian mind works:

"In a new breakthrough to understand more about the mammalian brain, University of Copenhagen researchers have made an incredible discovery. Namely, a vital enzyme that enables brain signals is switching on and off at random, even taking hours-long "breaks from work". These findings may have a major impact on our understanding of the brain and the development of pharmaceuticals.

"Millions of neurons are constantly messaging each other to shape thoughts and memories and let us move our bodies at will. When two neurons meet to exchange a message, neurotransmitters are transported from one neuron to another with the aid of a unique enzyme.

"This process is crucial for neuronal communication and the survival of all complex organisms. Until now, researchers worldwide thought that these enzymes were active at all times to convey essential signals continuously. But this is far from the case.

"Using an innovative method, researchers from the University of Copenhagen's Department of Chemistry have closely studied the enzyme and discovered that its activity is switching on and off at random intervals, which contradicts our previous understanding.

"'This is the first time anyone has studied these mammalian brain enzymes one molecule at a time, and we are awed by the result. Contrary to popular belief, and unlike many other proteins, these enzymes could stop working for minutes to hours. Still, the brains of humans and other mammals are miraculously able to function," says Professor Dimitrios Stamou, who led the study from the center for Geometrically Engineered Cellular Systems at the University of Copenhagen's Department of Chemistry.


"The central enzyme of this study, known as V-ATPase, is responsible for supplying the energy for the neurotransmitter pumps in these containers. Without it, neurotransmitters wouldn't be pumped into the containers, and the containers wouldn't be able to transmit messages between neurons.

"But the study demonstrates that in each container, there is just one enzyme; when this enzyme switches off, there would be no more energy to drive the loading of neurotransmitters into the containers. This is an entirely new and unexpected discovery.

"'It is nearly incomprehensible that the extremely critical process of loading neurotransmitters in containers is delegated to only one molecule per container. Especially when we find that 40% of the time these molecules are switched off," says Professor Dimitrios Stamou.


"Facts about the V-ATPase enzyme:

"V-ATPases are enzymes that break down ATP molecules to pump protons across cellular membranes.
They are found in all cells and are essential for controlling the pH/acidity inside and/or outside cells.
In neuronal cells, the proton gradient established by V-ATPases provides energy for loading neurochemical messengers called neurotransmitters into synaptic vesicles for subsequent release at synaptic connections."

Comment: my usual thought about any enzyme. It is a giant very complex molecule thatt can only appear by design.

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