Brain Gene Expression in Development and After Injury
The development of any organ or tissue involves the organized generation, migration, differentiation, and interaction of various cell types. The complexity of functionally as well as molecularly defined cell types, both neurons and glia, in the adult nervous system is far greater than in other organs. As well as complex patterns of differentiation, brain development involves especially complex temporal and spatial patterns of cell migration, followed by the establishment and maintenance of complex patterns of synaptic connections between the axon of each neuron in a circuit and the dendrites or cell body of the next. This “hard wiring,” involving trillions of synapses, is the substrate for the constantly fluctuating patterns of synaptic activity that characterize a functioning nervous system. Owing to the length and complexity of neuronal processes, the cell body is a very small part of the neuron’s total volume, and proteins, mostly synthesized in the cell body, must be transported across considerable distances to their sites of utilization, e.g., to a synapse at the distal end of the axon (Fig. 1). Consequently, the generation and maintenance of a functional nervous system must involve the precisely regulated synthesis, transport, utilization, and degradation of a great many different gene products. The advent of recombinant DNA technology has given us the tools to identify some of these gene products and to investigate their synthesis, regulation, and function.
KeywordsMigration Toxicity Neurol NMDA Fibril
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