campus seminar: The need for speed - Thicker nerve fibres enable faster reactions in mice

campus seminar

  • Date: Oct 20, 2021
  • Time: 11:00 - 12:00
  • Speaker: Maria Eichel-Vogel
  • Department of Neurogenetics
  • Location: Max-Planck-Institut für biophysikalische Chemie (MPIBPC)
  • Room: Manfred Eigen Hall & Online
  • Host: Loren Andreas, Alex Faesen, Aljaz Godec, Stefan Karpitschka, Juliane Liepe, Alexander Stein, David Zwicker, Sonja Lorenz, Oleksiy Kovtun, Grazvydas Lukinavicius, Marieke Oudelaar, Knut Heidemann,Stefan Glöggler
  • Contact: stefan.gloeggler@mpibpc.mpg.de
In order for organisms to react swiftly to stimuli in their environment, they need rapid and precise transmission of nerve impulses along neural extensions known as axons. Whereas some invertebrates have developed very thick axons to increase the neural transmission speed, in vertebrate nervous systems a myelin sheath has formed around the axon. This insulating layer enables rapid stimulus conduction with a small axon diameter. Until now, however, no-one has identified a molecule that limits the growth of axon thickness. We have succeeded in genetically switching off the CMTM6 protein in myelin-producing cells in mice and observed that the mice not only developed thicker axons, but also reacted significantly more quickly to sensory stimuli compared to their peers. Since neurological diseases such as Charcot-Marie-Tooth disease exhibit reduced axon diameter, CMTM6 could present a possible target for therapies.
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