Utrecht researchers have clarified the function of proteins that play a role in signal transmission between neurons. Without these proteins, it is more difficult to pass on nerve stimuli, which may play a role in neurological disorders such as autism. The researchers will publish their findings in Cell Reports on 8 October.
Neurons communicate with one another via synapses: the contact site between two neurons where the signal is transferred from the axon to the receiving dendrite. The axon sends the signal by releasing synaptic vesicles filled with the neurotransmitter glutamate. The neurotransmitters then activate the receptors at the postsynaptic density on the receiving dendrite. With this, the signal is transferred and initiates a signal cascade in the receiving neuron. However, in order to prevent overstimulation in the receiving neuron, it is important that the activated receptors are rapidly deactivated.