Researchers Find Protein Determines Nerve’s Fate

Researchers at the Skirball Institute of Biomolecular Medicine, New York University (NYU) School of Medicine, have found that a protein (neuregulin-1 type III, or NRG1-III) essential for the protective wrapping around a nerve’s central wiring, or axons, also determines its fate.
Just as plastic coatings insulate electrical wires, myelin coats nerve fibers. This fatty substance also accelerates message-carrying impulses that travel along the nerve fibers and frees them from interference. For more than a decade, scientists have known that nerve cells make neuregulins, growth proteins that promote glial cell growth. However, the delicate interaction between nerve cells and the glial cells (Schwann cells) that produce them remain a mystery.
It has been shown that growth factor protein NRG1-III triggers glial cells to make myelin. This knowledge should lead researchers to develop more effective treatments for several neurological diseases, including peripheral neuropathy. [Read more]

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