Monday, May 10, 2010

Brain master switch

Researchers have identified the protein that tells synapses to release neurotransmitters. A protein called synaptotagmin1 (Syt1). When calcium reaches 10 parts per million, Syt1 tells the synapse to fire. This is the sort of report that means nothing to me in its details but much more in generalities.

I don't really care about the name of the protein that does this or that, or for that matter the names or affiliations of the researchers. But finding the one protein that causes every synapse to fire seems like a basic enough discovery that all kinds of things should flow from it, though I couldn't name any. It's the sort of thing that gets mentioned in Nobel announcements years later. Apparently Syt1 had been a suspect as part of a structure to release neurotransmitters, but now they're sure it's the sole trigger.

No comments:

Post a Comment