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K-State Today

April 13, 2015

Antje Anji seeks CLARITY to use in RNA-protein studies related to the effects of alcohol on the brain

Submitted by Joe Montgomery

Antje Anji

Antje Anji, a researcher in the College of Veterinary Medicine, was invited to attend a CLARITY workshop in March at Stanford University in California. CLARITY is a new technique developed in the Deisseroth Lab at Stanford that makes the brain optically transparent while preserving the structural details. This allows for detailed microscopic investigation and improved brain imaging. Anji said she plans to use this technique in her studies.

"Alcohol, one of the most abused drugs worldwide, presents a socioeconomic burden on every society. In spite of this, effective treatments for alcohol addiction are not available. Our research emphasis is on a well-established target of alcohol in the brain, NMDA receptors consisting of NR1 and NR2B subunits," said Anji, research associate professor in the anatomy and physiology department. "Chronic alcohol-mediated increase in NMDA receptor expression in cerebral cortex contributes, in part, to the development of alcohol dependence and withdrawal syndrome."

Anji said that an increase in NR1 expression in the presence of alcohol is due to post-transcriptional regulation.

"We have identified two RNA binding proteins whose interaction with NR1 mRNA is increased following chronic alcohol consumption," she said. "Using traditional immunohistochemical methods, we observed one of the NR1 mRNA binding proteins to be over-expressed in specific neurons and neuronal processes. By using the CLARITY technique, we want to further extend our studies to visualize NR1 mRNA-protein complexes and determine whether these RNA-protein complexes are retained within the soma of cortical neurons or are transported to distantly located synapses in other brain region(s). NR1 mRNA is known to be translated locally in synapses."

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