Calcium Ions Help Shape The Brain

A transient increase in the concentration of calcium ions is necessary for the proper formation of the neural tube in the developing embryo.

AsianScientist (Apr. 11, 2017) – Researchers from the National Institute for Basic Biology have shown that a transient increase in the concentration of calcium ions causes the morphological changes that lead to neural tube formation. These findings, selected to be featured on the cover, have been published in Development.

Formation of the neural tube is a critical step in embryonic development. Disruptions to this complex process can lead to conditions such as anencephaly and spina bifida.

In the present study, the researchers observed neural tube formation in the embryos of African clawed frogs (Xenopus laevis) using the fluorescent protein GECO, the brightness of which varies depending on the intracellular calcium ion concentration.

They found that the pattern of the fluctuation in intracellular calcium ion concentration in the cell population is complex. Local and transient rises in intracellular calcium ion concentrations have been found to cause cell deformation and contribute to the formation of the neural tube.

“According to these results, in the elevated pattern of calcium ions, we found that there is a pattern randomly occurring in single cells, and a pattern that occurs synchronously in many neighboring cells,” said study leader Assistant Professor Makoto Suzuki.

“It was found that the morphological changes necessary for normal neural tube formation occurred by combining these different patterns.”

The article can be found at: Suzuki et al. (2017) Distinct Intracellular Ca2+ Dynamics Regulate Apical Constriction and Differentially Contribute to Neural Tube Closure.


Source: National Institute of Natural Sciences; Photo: Makoto Suzuki.
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