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2013 Grants - Bartolini
Regulation of Microtubule Dynamics by Amyloid-Beta Peptide
Francesca Bartolini, Ph.D.
Columbia University Medical Center
New York, New York
2013 New Investigator Research Grant
Beta-amyloid is a fragment of protein that is a focus of research on Alzheimer's disease. Some forms of beta-amyloid are toxic to nerve cells, and if not cleared from the brain, beta-amyloid forms clumps known as amyloid plaques, one of the characteristic brain changes associated with Alzheimer's disease.
One toxic effect of beta-amyloid is that it impairs synaptic transmission, the process by which nerve cells send rapid signals between brain cells and throughout the brain. This rapid transmission is important for learning and memory. It is not yet known how beta-amyloid causes impairment in synaptic transmission.
Francesca Bartolini, Ph.D. and colleagues have been studying how beta-amyloid affects synaptic transmission in nerve cells, focusing on its effects on microtubules. Microtubules are tube-shaped structures inside of cells that are crucial for maintaining cell shape, including the shape of the connections between brain cells called synapses. Microtubules normally remodel themselves to adapt to the cell's needs, but Dr. Bartolini's team has obtained preliminary evidence suggesting that beta-amyloid may disrupt that process. They have proposed more extensive experiments to explore the effects of beta-amyloid on microtubule structure and remodeling. These studies may advance our understanding of how beta-amyloid leads to brain cell dysfunction and may suggest new targets for treatments to prevent beta-amyloid toxicity.