Google Play icon

Sensing gravity with acid: Scientists discover a role for protons in neurotransmission

Share
Posted March 26, 2014
toadfish
The toadfish (Opsanus tau) is a model organism used by the Highstein lab to study hearing, balance, and synaptic transmission. Credit: Wikimedia
While probing how organisms sense gravity and acceleration, scientists at the Marine Biological Laboratory (MBL) and the University of Utah uncovered evidence that acid (proton concentration) plays a key role in communication between neurons. The surprising discovery is reported this week in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

The team, led by the late MBL senior scientist Stephen M. Highstein, discovered that sensory cells in the inner ear continuously transmit information on orientation of the head relative to gravity and low-frequency motion to the brain using protons as the key synaptic signaling molecule. (The synapse is the structure that allows one neuron to communicate with another by passing a chemical or electrical signal between them.)

“This addresses how we sense gravity and other low-frequency inertial stimuli, like acceleration of an automobile or roll of an airplane,” says co-author Richard Rabbitt, a professor at University of Utah and adjunct faculty member in the MBL’s Program in Sensory Physiology and Behavior.

Read more at: MedicalXpress

Featured news from related categories:

Technology Org App
Google Play icon
84,824 science & technology articles