Brain research wins publication award
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Mark Lobas, a student in the Neuroscience Graduate Program and a member of Joshua Weiner's laboratory team in the University of Iowa College of Liberal Arts and Sciences Department of Biology, received the Neuroscience Graduate Program's Publication Award for an article published in the March 2012 issue of the Journal of Neurochemistry.
Lobas' winning paper examined the existence of proteins called Y-protocadherins in the brain's choroid plexus (CP) epithelium region in mice. Lobas and his colleagues showed that the 22-member Y-protocadherin family of cell adhesion molecules exist at the apical membrane of the CP epithelium, which plays a critical role in the development and function of the brain. Lobas says the existence of the adhesion molecules in this area is unusual because there is nothing to which they can adhere.
When the researchers substituted non-express proteins for the original proteins, they found that the volume of cerebral ventricles in the brains of mice decreased—an unusual event because the opposite usually occurs with cerebral ventricles when a defect exists. The finding could have important medical implications for people suffering from hydrocephalus, an excess of cerebrospinal fluid in the brain that can lead to swelling. Currently, treatment involves placing a shunt in the brain, but unfortunately, a large majority of shunts fail after about two years.
Lobas says the next step in his research is to determine the cause of the shrinking ventricles in mice where a portion of the protocadherin has been knocked out.
The Publication Award is given to a neuroscience graduate student for the best primary research article published during the past year and carries a monetary award of $500.