In a study published in Neuron, scientists at the Salk Institute for Biological Studies have recovered a key signal that guides motor neurons—the nascent cells that extend from the spinal cord and must find their way down the length of limbs such as arms, wings, and legs. The Salk study identifies a mutation christened Magellan. The Magellan mutation occurs in a gene that pilots motor neurons on the correct course employing a newly discovered mechanism, their results demonstrate.
In the mutants, growing neurons can be seen leaving the spinal cord normally but then appear to lose direction. The elongating cells develop “kinks” and sometimes fold back on themselves or become entwined in a spiral, forming coils outside the spinal cord. “They appear to become lost in a traffic roundabout,” described Pfaff, who observed the growing neurons with fluorescent technology.
Published in Drug Discovery & Development magazine: Vol. 10, No. 12, December, 2007, pp. 16.
Filed Under: Drug Discovery