Hace unos días tuve la fortuna de asistir al congreso de la Society for Neuroscience (SfN) famoso por ser una de las reuniones científicas más importantes y grandes a nivel mundial (>30,000 asistentes). Ahí pude participar como uno de los 10 bloggers oficiales del congreso, les comparto en esta entrada uno de los textos escritos para la plataforma de Neuronline
“Sensory transduction allow us to make sense of the complex world we are immersed in. Vision, hearing, olfaction, touch, nociception, although extremely complex all are biological adaptations of the same principle: detect physical/chemical stimuli and encode it in a signal that can be used by the system. With this in mind, it is not surprising at all that a line to attend the lecture “Start Making Sense: Neuronal and Molecular Mechanisms of Sensory Signaling” started 30 minutes prior the start of the talk. The lecturer, Dr. Piali Sengupta from Brandeis University, study the mechanisms of chemo and thermosensation in C. elegans with the ultimate goal of explaining how does sensory neurons in the periphery code specific stimuli.
I need to say that I don’t work with C. elegans, so it was surprising to me to learn that with around 60 ciliated sensory neurons C. elegans can sense and respond to a variety of stimuli such as the produced by chemicals, temperature, odorants and pheromones. The behaviors showed by C. elegans are, in words of Dr. Sengupta, extremely robust and complex, but quantifiable even distinguishable at high resolution (subdivisions of a particular behavior). Moreover, it is possible to differentiate any single neuron anatomically and morphologically. Finally, one can identify specific sensory molecules by using forward and reverse genetic approaches.
Studying C. elegans behaviors evoked by different stimuli, and the changes induced by the mutations of different genes represent a powerful tool to understand the basics of sensory systems. By using this logic Dr. Sengupta discovered and published in 1996 that the odr-10 gene encode a receptor for the odorant diacetyl but not for other odorants. But this was only the beginning, Odr-10 protein is localized in sensory cilia, but the architecture of ciliary processes is very complex and can vary a lot, think about the differences between a mammalian airway epithelial cell and rod photoreceptor. How does the neuronal sensory properties are shaped by the architecture of their sensory endings? It is a puzzling question that Dr. Sengupta is addressing right now. But as with other complex and sometimes perplexing scientific puzzles may be the answer lie in carefully observe and study a simple but invaluable organism using it as a model system for systems neuroscience.
I want to end this brief article with the words of Dr. Sengupta: Don’t underestimate the power of basic research.”
¿Interesante? Quizá quieras ver una ponencia de la Dra. Sengupta disponible en youtube