AI-Designed Serotonin Sensor May Help Scientists Study Sleep, Mental Health

In a Cell article, National Institutes of Health-funded researchers described how they used advanced genetic engineering techniques to convert bacterial proteins into a new research tool that more closely monitors serotonin transmission than current methods. I can help

Early experiments, mainly in mice, showed that sensors could detect subtle, real-time changes in brain serotonin levels during sleep, fear and social interactions, as well as the effectiveness of new psychotropic drugs. Can check

The study was funded, in part by the NIH’Brain Research of Advanced Innovative Neurotechnology (BRAIN) initiative, which aims to improve our understanding of the brain in healthy and diseased conditions. To change.

The study was led by researchers from the University of California’s Davis School of Medicine’s principal investigator, Lin Tian, ​​a PhD lab. Current methods can only detect broader changes in serotonin signaling. In this study, researchers converted a nutrition-related grip, a Venus fly-trap-shaped bacterial protein, into a highly sensitive sensor that fluorescently illuminates serotonin upon capture.

Earlier, scientists at the Howard Hughes Medical Institute’s Genelia Research Campus, Ashburn, Virginia, Lorraine L. Luger, lab used traditional genetic engineering techniques to convert bacterial proteins into sensors of the neurotransmitter acetylcholine.

The protein, called OPBC, is usually absorbed by the nutritional choline, which is in the form of acetylcholine. For this study, Tian Lab worked with Dr. Lugar’s team and Viviana Guardinaro, PhD, of Caltech, Pasadena, California, to demonstrate how to completely redesign OPBC. Therefore, they need the extra help of artificial intelligence. A serotonin catcher.

Researchers have used machine learning algorithms to help computers ‘think’. 250,000 new designs. After testing three cycles, the scientists settled on one. Preliminary experiments have shown that the new sensor reliably detects serotonin at different levels in the brain, while there is little or no response to other neurotransmitters or similar drugs.

Experiments with mouse brain slices showed that sensors responded to serotonin signals transmitted between neurons at places of synaptic communication. Meanwhile, experiments on the cells of the petri dish show that the sensor can effectively monitor changes caused by these drugs, including cocaine, MDMA (also called ecstasy) and Commonly used antidepressants are also included.

Finally, experiments in mice showed that sensors could help scientists study serotonin neurotransmission under more natural conditions. For example, when the mice woke up and fell asleep, the researchers observed an expected increase in serotonin levels.

When the rats finally penetrated deeper, they saw most of the droplets, R.E.M. Sleep conditions. Traditional serotonin monitoring methods eliminate these changes. In addition, the scientists found that serotonin levels in the brain’s two separate fear circuits increased differently when mice were warned of foot trauma.

In one circuit – the medical prefrontal cortex – the bell raised the level of serotonin faster and higher, while in the other – the basolateral amygdala – the transmitter stood slightly lower.

In the spirit of the Brian Initiative, researchers intend to make sensors readily available to other scientists. He hopes this will help researchers gain a better understanding of the important role of serotonin in our daily lives and in many psychological matters.

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