Pyramidal neurons have a distinctive shape and set of connections.
Gao lab, Drexel

Reshaping the brain: scientists reprogram neurons after birth

Altered neurons link up to a different brain region.

by Diana Gitig – Jan 14 2013, 3:00pm EST

The cerebral cortex—the gray matter that forms the outer layers of the mammalian cerebrum and cerebellum—is divided into six different layers based on the presence of specialized neurons, and we’ve known that since the early 1900s. Denis Jabaudon is interested in using the tools of modern biology to understand the genetic mechanisms that establish and maintain those layers. Over the past few years, his lab has published papers implicating various genes in the generation of specific neuronal subtypes.

Now they have gone a step further. They have developed a new electrochemical method to transfer genes into specific types of neurons—they call it iontoporation. Using it, they have transformed one type of neuron in a mature brain into a different type entirely. (Imagine a lightning bolt and crash of thunder here to indicate how momentous and scary this is.) Just kidding—it’s not actually scary. Instead, it tells us something about the ability of a mature brain to adapt to being rewired.

Read more: Reshaping the brain: scientists reprogram neurons after birth | Ars Technica.

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