Discovery of a New Intracellular Signal that Facilitates Early Stage Neural Network Formation ―New Intracellular Transducer : Magnesium Ion―
January 8, 2019
Keio University Sanyo-Onoda City University
A joint research group consisting of Professor Kotaro Oka and other members of the Keio University Faculty of Science and Technology, Department of Biosciences and Informatics and Assistant Professor Ryu Yamanaka of the Sanyo-Onoda City University Faculty of Pharmaceutical Science has shown that the fluctuations in intracellular magnesium ion concentration is a new signal transducer that facilitates the maturation of neuronal networks. The research group used an intracellular magnesium ion fluorescent probe that they developed for their ongoing research to analyze magnesium ion dynamics in hippocampal neurons. This led to the very first discovery that GABA, which is a type of neurotransmitter, induces the release of magnesium ions from the mitochondria into the cytoplasm. Furthermore, it has been clarified that the released magnesium ions facilitate the maturation of neural networks by simultaneously controlling the activities of multiple intracellular signaling molecules. Until now, it had been thought that the intracellular magnesium ion concentration remained constant and that there was no connection to the dynamic changes of the cells. However, the results of this study showed that the intracellular magnesium ion is a new signal transducer that integrates extracellular signals and regulates numerous downstream molecules. The role of the magnesium ion as a new transducer has become fundamental knowledge in biology and medicine, and there are expectations that this will contribute to the development of medications in the future.
The findings of this research were published in the December 17, 2018 (Mon.; Japan time) issue of the American scientific journal "Current Biology."