The Huck Institutes of the Life Sciences

Protein required for flexible behavior is identified

Researchers have identified in mice a protein that is necessary for maintaining behavioral flexibility, the ability to adapt to changing circumstances; their findings may offer new insights for addressing such human afflictions as autism and schizophrenia, in which this ability is significantly impaired.
 
Simplified schematic diagram of the initiation of the UPR and downstream signaling through the receptors PERK, IRE1 and ATF6. Credit: Judith Ritchie, via Wikimedia Commons.

Simplified schematic diagram of the initiation of the UPR and downstream signaling through the receptors PERK, IRE1 and ATF6. Credit: Judith Ritchie, via Wikimedia Commons.

By: James Devitt

 

The protein, named PERK, is a vital component in protein synthesis. “A major obstacle to investigating the role of the PERK protein in regulating behavior is that many other body functions also are dependent upon this protein,” notes Douglas Cavener, co-author of the research paper describing the discovery.

 

About Dr. Cavener

Douglas Cavener is department head and professor of biology at Penn State, a faculty member of the Huck Institutes' graduate programs in cell and developmental biologygeneticsmolecular medicineneuroscience, and physiology, and a researcher in the Huck Institutes Center for Cellular DynamicsCenter for Molecular Investigation of Neurological Disorders, and Diabetes and Obesity Institute.

Publication details

Published:
2012
Author(s):
  • Trinh MA
  • Kaphzan H
  • Wek RC
  • Pierre P
  • Cavener DR
  • Klann E
Title:
Brain-Specific Disruption of the eIF2α Kinase PERK Decreases ATF4 Expression and Impairs Behavioral Flexibility
Journal:
Cell Reports 1(6): 676-688
doi:
10.1016/j.celrep.2012.04.010