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Scientists develop technique for imaging mRNA molecules in the brains of living mice

July 07, 2022 05:40 Is

Washington [US], July 7 (ANI): Scientists have developed a new technique for imaging mRNA molecules in the brains of living mice. The research reveals new insights into how memories are formed and stored in the brain and could allow scientists to learn more about diseases such as Alzheimer’s in the future.
The paper is published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS).
There are still a lot of mysteries about the process of how memory is physically formed and stored in the brain. It is well known that mRNA is a type of RNA involved in the formation of proteins that are produced during the process of forming and storing memories, but the technology to study this process at the cellular level is limited. Previous studies have often involved dissecting rats to examine their brains.
A team of researchers led by a Twin Cities faculty member from the University of Minnesota has developed a new technique that gives scientists a window into RNA synthesis in a mouse’s brain while it is still alive.
“We still know very little about memories in the brain,” explained Hye Yoon Park, an associate professor in the University of Minnesota Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering and lead author of the study. “It is well known that mRNA synthesis is important for memory, but it was never possible to characterize it in the living brain. Our work is an important contribution to this field. We now have this new technology that neurobiologists can use for a variety of experiments.” and memory tests in the future.”

The University of Minnesota-led team’s process involved genetic engineering, two-photon excitation microscopy, and customized image processing software. By genetically modifying a mouse so that it produces an mRNA labeled with green fluorescent protein (a protein derived from jellyfish), the researchers were able to see when and where the mouse’s brain produced Arc mRNA, specific The type of molecule they were looking for.
Since the mouse is alive, researchers can study it for a long time. Using this new process, the researchers conducted two experiments on a mouse in which they could see in real time over a month what neurons — or nerve cells — were doing as the mouse was making and storing memories.
Historically, neuroscientists have theorized that certain groups of neurons in the brain fire when a memory is formed, and that the same cells fire again when the same moment or event is remembered. However, in both experiments, the researchers found that each day different groups of neurons triggered the memory in the mouse.
During several days after the mouse formed this memory, they were able to detect a small group of cells that, each day, in the retrosplenial cortex (RSC) region of the brain, generated overlap or consecutive Arc mRNA, a group that They believe that the long-term storage of that memory is responsible.
“Our research is about memory formation and retrieval,” Park said. “If we can understand how this happens, it will be very helpful for us in understanding Alzheimer’s disease and other memory-related diseases. Maybe people with Alzheimer’s disease still store memories somewhere – they retrieve them.” Can’t. So in a very long time, maybe this research can help us to overcome these diseases.” (ANI)

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