An international study led by CSIC researchers has discovered a new mechanism that controls the activation of stem cells in the brain and that promotes neurogenesis (generation of new neurons) throughout life.
The work, which has been on the cover of the magazine «Cell Reports», shows the importance of understanding the Genetic keys that promote adult neurogenesis and opens the door to the design of brain regions, new neurons continue to form throughout life. The key lies in neural stem cells, which have the potential to generate new neurons.
However, normally these cells remain dormant. That is why the work led by Aixa V. Morales, researcher at the Cajal Institute of the CSIC
, acquires great relevance. It has described some proteins, present in stem cells, essential for the activation of adult neurogenesis.
The group has discovered that proteins Sox5 and Sox6 they are found mainly in the neural stem cells of the hippocampus, responsible for memory and learning.
‘We have used genetic strategies that allow us to selectively remove these proteins from the brain stem cells of adult mice and we have shown that are essential for the activation of these cells and for the generation of new hippocampal neurons» explains Aixa V. Morales.
In this work, the team, in which the groups of Helena Mira, from the Institute of Biomedicine of Valencia (IBV-CSIC) and Carlos Vicario, from the Cajal Institute, have also participated, has also observed that the mutations prevent the mice from with environmental enrichment (wider and newer spaces) they can generate new neurons.
“In favorable environments there is a greater activation of stem cells and, therefore, more neurons are generated. However, the elimination of Sox5 from the brain of these mice is an obstacle for neurogenesis”, indicates Morales.
In addition, other studies have shown that mutations Sox5 and Sox6 in humans they cause rare neurodevelopmental diseases, such as syndromes of Lamb-Shaffer y Tolchin-Le Caignec. These cause cognitive deficits and disorders of the Autistic spectrum.
“This work will allow a better understanding of the important neuronal alterations that are manifested in these diseases”, concludes Morales.