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7

INSIDE SALK

WINTER 2016

WWW.SALK.EDU

A

Neuron

study from John Reynolds’

lab reveals more about how the

brain processes vision, which could

contribute to new therapies or visual

prosthetics. Bursts in a neuron’s

electrical activity—the number of

“spikes” that result when brain cells

fire—make up the basic code for

perception, according to traditional

thought. But neurons constantly

speed up and slow down their signals.

Reynolds, first author Anirvan Nandy

and colleagues found that being able

to see the world relies on not just the

number of spikes but the timing of those

spikes as well.

WHEN IT COMES

TO RECOGNIZING

SHAPES, TIMING

IS EVERYTHING

Rusty Gage’s lab showed how pieces

of genomic material copy and paste

themselves seemingly sporadically

throughout DNA in brain cells. Gage,

co-first authors Jennifer Erwin and

Apuã Paquola, and collaborators,

revealed that one type of jumping

gene (called L1) can not only insert

DNA but also remove large portions

of it, resulting in much more genetic

variation than previously thought. The

team also examined how L1 variations

influence a schizophrenia-associated

gene called DLG2, providing insight

into how these jumping genes could

cause neurological diseases. The work

was published September 2016 in

Nature Neuroscience.

THE BRAIN’S STUNNING GENOMIC

DIVERSITY REVEALED

The “jumping gene” L1 cuts DNA in human cells

to generate neuronal genomic diversity. Cells

expressing L1 (genomic DNA shown in red) have

high levels of DNA breaks as visualized by 53BP1

staining (green) which repairs broken DNA.