Neurobiology

Diversity generates complexity in the brain

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Science  07 Nov 2014:
Vol. 346, Issue 6210, pp. 713-714
DOI: 10.1126/science.346.6210.713-d

Complexity in the brain derives not only from having a lot of neurons but also from the different ways neurons connect. Neurexin proteins help to establish these connections, but they themselves complicate the picture. Alternative splicing adds diversity to neurexins' protein coding regions by creating mRNAs with different combinations of exons. This diversity broadens the range of molecules bound by neurexins and modulates when and where neurons express them. To get a complete picture of neurexin diversity, Schreiner et al. sequenced the many neurexin transcripts produced adult mouse brains. Although two types of neurexins made good use of the diversity available to them, a third neurexin barely scratched the surface of its options.

Neuron 84, 386 (2014).

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