Research NewsNeuroscience

Signaling Inside Neurons Takes Some New Twists

Science  21 Jun 1996:
Vol. 272, Issue 5269, pp. 1742-1743
DOI: 10.1126/science.272.5269.1742


At Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory's annual Symposium on Quantitative Biology, one of the more surprising developments came from research showing that the same protein, called alpha-gustducin, transmits both sweet and sour signals from their surface receptors to the cell interior. That was unexpected because the two types of signals have opposite effects on intracellular cyclic AMP concentrations, and researchers now need to explain how one protein can achieve both. Also reported at the meeting were new findings indicating that nerve growth factor (NGF), generally known for promoting neuronal survival, can actually kill some nerve cells at an early stage of embryonic development, possibly as part of the normal neuronal pruning that goes on then. NGF apparently acts through a receptor protein called p75, although exactly how is unclear.