AANS Neurosurgeon | Volume 26, Number 2, 2017

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Protein Called GRASP1 is Needed to Strengthen Brain Circuits

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Learning and memory depend on cells’ ability to strengthen and weaken circuits in the brain. Now, researchers at Johns Hopkins Medicine report that a protein involved in recycling other cell proteins plays an important role in this process. Removing this protein reduced mice’s ability to learn and recall information. “We see deficits in learning tasks,” says Richard Huganir, PhD, professor and director of the neuroscience department at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine. The team also found mutations in the gene that produces the recycling protein in a few patients with intellectual disability, and those genetic errors affected neural connections when introduced into mouse brain cells. The results suggest that the protein could be a potential target for drugs to treat cognitive disorders such as intellectual disability and autism, Huganir says.

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