MCDB Scientists Discover How the Brain Encodes Memories at a Cellular Level

Dec 23, 2009

Scientists led by MCDB Harriman Chair Ken Kosik have made a major discovery in how the brain encodes memories. The finding, published in the December 24 issue of the journal Neuron, could eventually lead to the development of new drugs to aid memory. The team of scientists uncovered a central process in encoding memories that occurs at the level of the synapse, where neurons connect with each other. Lead authors Sourav Banerjee and Pierre Neveu found that the protein MOV10, a key component of the machinery to regulate mRNA levels by specific microRNAs, was present at synapses and was rapidly degraded in a manner dependent on synapse activity, freeing specific mRNAs to be translated into protein. These results suggest a unifying picture of a local translational regulatory mechanism during synaptic plasticity.

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