Making New Connections
This composite image from the lab of Scott Soderling in Cell Biology shows both the behavior and structure of a protein called WRP that occurs almost exclusively in neurons. Tagged green, the protein homes in on slender, red-labeled dendrites on the receiving end of a neuron. A computer-rendered model at the center of the image shows the structure of the portion of WRP that binds to the surface of the dendrite. Soderling’s group thinks WRP is key to forming new extensions on dendrites called filopodia that mature into synapses that are sites of communication between neurons, giving the neuron more connections to receive more inputs. Conversely, losing WRP is associated with learning and memory deficits, as shown in experimental mice and in cases of intellectual disability in humans. Read the paper.