Chapman Published in Nature Communications

Photo: Studio portrait of Edwin ChapmanEd Chapman, professor of Neuroscience and HHMI investigator, and colleagues recently published in Nature Communications, Vol. 10, Article number: 3532 (2019), their work on synaptotagmin 17 (syt-17).

Synaptotagmins (syt) are generally thought to regulate exocytosis at the plasma membrane. Despite intense interest, only a minority of syt isoforms have been assigned any specific function. Using mice whose syt-17 gene was silenced, they discovered that halting production of synaptotagmin 17 (syt-17) blocked growth of axons. When mice cells were programmed to make more syt-17, axon growth accelerated.

A wide range of neurological conditions could benefit from the growth of axons, including spinal cord injuries and some neurodegenerative diseases.

“It’s a bit of a simplification,” says Chapman, “but basically, you can’t build without supplies, and one of the ways that neurons are able to build such long, complicated axons is through syt-17 speeding up the production line.”

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