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Adam Kole and Dr. Deshmukh
The Deshmukh lab has published new findings explaining how neurons are able avoid cell death as they mature. The findings are published in the January 15th issue of Genes & Development.
Soon after the period of development, neurons are known to become very resistant to cell death, or apoptosis, which allows them to survive for long periods of time. However, the exact mechanism by which this occurs remains unclear. The Deshmukh lab found that a microRNA, called miR-29b, becomes highly expressed during neuronal maturation and functions to promote survival. They found that miR-29b inhibits apoptosis in mature neurons by blocking multiple, redundant family of genes in the BH3-only family, which are key mediators of death. These results have interesting implications for neurodegenerative diseases, such as Alzheimer's and Huntington's, where the expression of miR-29 has been shown to be low. In these and other situations of neuronal injury, elevating the levels of miR-29 is anticipated to promote neuronal survival.