Nov 10, 2020

Sugita Lab Lays Groundwork for Therapies for Childhood Neurological Disorders

A diagram from Professor Sugita's study

Photo of Professor Sugita and his Lab membersA hearty congratulations to Professor Shuzo Sugita's lab whose study "Open syntaxin overcomes exocytosis defects of diverse mutants in C. elegans" was recently published in Nature Communications.

As Professor Sugita and his students explain, 

"For healthy brain function, brain cells must communicate between each other using neurotransmitters. Children with genetic mutations in certain proteins in their brain cell synaptic terminals -- such as syntaxin and Munc13 -- can develop a range of neurological disorders, including epilepsy, due to the dysfunction of neurotransmitter release.

"Using the small worm, C. elegans, as a model, our group studied how structurally opening the syntaxin protein influences neurotransmitter release. The study shows that facilitating the opening of syntaxin rescues neurotransmitter release defects caused not only by Munc13 mutations but also by diverse mutations of other synaptic proteins.

"The results provide a novel insight to the interaction between syntaxin and Munc13, and suggest that chemicals that help the opening of syntaxin will provide a general means to enhance synaptic transmission in normal and disease states. Thus, the work will lay the groundwork for developing novel therapies for some devastating childhood neurological disorders."

Click here to read the full study