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2008 Grants - Gerges
Role of Neurogranin in Alzheimer's Disease
Nashaat Gerges, Ph.D.
Medical College of Wisconsin
2008 New Investigator Research Grant
Nerve cells communicate with one another through specialized regions called synapses. The very rapid cell-to-cell communication that synapses permit endows the nervous system with many of its unique abilities. Furthermore, many synapses undergo plasticity, a process by which the strength of the communicated signal is changed by experience. Synaptic plasticity is one of the primary mechanisms that enables the nervous system to learn and remember.
Neurogranin is a protein found in the specialized regions of nerve cells that enable them to receive synaptic signals (the postsynaptic terminal). The function of neurogranin is not well understood, but it is known to bind to another protein called calmodulin, which mediates some forms of synaptic plasticity. Furthermore, levels of neurogranin are reduced in several neurological disorders, including Alzheimer's disease.
Nashaat Gerges, Ph.D., and colleagues plan to study the role of neurogranin in the synapse as well as in synaptic plasticity. They will also study how the function of neurogranin is altered in the presence of beta-amyloid, a protein fragment that that appears to cause synaptic dysfunction and is a leading candidate for causing cognitive deficits in persons with Alzheimer's disease. These studies may help to define the molecular events leading to cognitive dysfunction in Alzheimer's disease.