In DepthNeuroscience

Is the cell's garbage disposal sending messages?

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Science  31 Mar 2017:
Vol. 355, Issue 6332, pp. 1361
DOI: 10.1126/science.355.6332.1361

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Summary

The cellular structure known as the proteasome breaks down unneeded and damaged proteins so their remains can be recycled. A new study suggests that the proteasome also has a surprising function—it allows neurons to transmit messages to other cells. Proteasomes normally remain in the cytoplasm or the nucleus, but the authors of the study identified proteasomes in neurons that are located at the cell membrane and release protein fragments into the cell’s surroundings. The researchers also found that the fragments triggered a surge of calcium into recipient cells, a sign that the fragments were serving as signals.