Medical Research Council - London Institute of Medical Sciences

Now in our 7th year of bringing you beautiful imagery from biomedical science every day

Curtailing Communication
26 June 2018

Curtailing Communication

Lightning, engines revving and nerve cell communication all have something in common: nitric oxide. When produced in nerve cells nitric oxide is known to affect the release of chemical neurotransmitters at synapses – the junctions across which a signal is transmitted from nerve to nerve, or nerve to another tissue. Researchers investigate how in fruit fly larvae at special synapses called neuromuscular junctions (NMJs; the nerve, shown in green, with side branches to the muscles). They found that exposing NMJs to nitric oxide, or by mimicking its chemical effects, increased interactions (red) between a protein called complexin and two proteins called SNAREs that are vital for neurotransmitter release. Piecing their findings together, the team suggest the chemical alterations nitric oxide makes to complexin allows complexin to grab hold of the SNAREs, so hampering signal passage. So nitric oxide at the synapse ultimately dampens neurotransmitter release, thereby regulating communication between nerve cells.

Written by Lux Fatimathas

Search The Archive

Submit An Image

What is BPoD?

BPoD stands for Biomedical Picture of the Day. Managed by the MRC London Institute of Medical Sciences the website aims to engage everyone, young and old, in the wonders of biomedicine. Images are kindly provided for inclusion on this website through the generosity of scientists across the globe.

Read More

BPoD is also available in Catalan at www.bpod.cat with translations by the University of Valencia.