Small (dormant) and enlarged (reactivated) neural stem cells expressing membrane-tagged GFP (green) and the cell cycle marker Cyclin B (red) in the young Drosophila fruit fly larval brain. Credit: University of Plymouth
June 6, 2019 (Phys.org) -- Live fruit fly brains have a molecular switch that reactivates dormant neural stem cells (NSCs).
Our brains are notoriously bad at regenerating cells that have been lost through injury or disease. While therapies using eural stem cells (NSCs) hold the promise of replacing lost cells, scientists need to better understand how NSCs behave in the brain in order to develop effective treatments.
Now research led by the University of Plymouth helps to shed new light on the mechanisms used by NSCs to "wake up" -- going from their usual dormant state to one of action.
NSCs produce neurons (nerve cells) and surrounding glial cells in the brain. By understanding how NSCs work, it could pave the way for therapies to speed up the neurons' and glial cells' regeneration.
The new study, conducted using Drosophila fruit flies, shows that molecules that form a complex called STRIPAK are essential to promote reactivation in NSCs. STRIPAK (Striatin-interacting phosphatase and kinase) is found in organisms from fungi to humans, and the team uncovered it when comparing the genetic messages of dormant and reactivated NSCs in live fly brains.
The researchers then discovered that STRIPAK components act as a switch to turn off dormancy (or quiescence) and turn on reactivation.