Skip navigation
A. First Molecule Discovered that Directs Neuron Synapses

Narrator: This is Science Today. Researchers at the University of California, San Francisco, have discovered a 'matchmaking' molecule that directs neurons to form connections with each other during an animal's early development. Neuroscientist Cori Bargmann, who led the study, says this connection creates synapses that are essential to all behavior.

Bargmann: It's important both for understanding normal development and normal function of the brain and for studying many brain disease states, where the right connections don't form or wrong connections form abnormally.

Narrator: Since the matchmaker protein discovered is related to proteins in humans, it may someday help in the treatment of chronic epilepsy or chronic pain, in which neurons form the wrong connections and cause synapse formation to go awry.

Bargmann: When the two nerve cells don't make the right connection, they make a bunch of wrong connections. The nerve cell gets desperate and starts connecting up with anything that's in its environment. So if the role of the matchmaker is to get the right cells together, if the matchmaker is absent the nerve cell goes to a bar and hooks up with all kinds of wrong partners.

Narrator: For Science Today, I'm Larissa Branin.