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. Protein That Kills Cells May Help Memory

disclaimer: image is for illustration purposes only
by staff writers
Champaign, Ill. (UPI) Dec 20, 2006
U.S. scientists say they've determined a protein known to kill cells also plays an important role in memory formation.

University of Illinois-Champaign researchers say their work exploring how zebra finches learn songs might have implications for treatment of neurodegenerative conditions such as dementia and Alzheimer's disease.

When activated, the enzyme caspase-3 triggers a synaptic process essential for memory storage, according to Graham Huesmann and David Clayton. They say their findings provide "the first direct evidence of a change in the availability of activated caspase-3 in the brain during the process of memory formation."

Caspase-3 is best known for its role in a biochemical cascade that leads to apoptotic cell death. The new findings demonstrate the enzyme acts differently under different conditions, and suggest its regulation in the brain is more complex than previously thought.

The research appears in the Dec. 21 issue of the journal Neuron.

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Human-Chimpanzee Difference May Be Bigger
Bloomington IN (SPX) Dec 21, 2006
Approximately 6 percent of human and chimp genes are unique to those species, report scientists from Indiana University Bloomington and three other institutions. The new estimate, reported in the inaugural issue of Public Library of Science ONE (Dec. 2006), takes into account something other measures of genetic difference do not -- the genes that aren't there.

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