Life depends on chemical signals. Without them our heart wouldn't know how to beat or our thoughts how to form, our eyes would be unable to see, our legs unable to walk and our mouths would be incapable of speech. Each of these actions - whether we are consciously aware of them or not - depend on chemical signals that shoot through our body at lightning speed, sending information to our brain which reads it and reacts to it by firing back signals that involve an action of some sort. Sometimes, however, the signalling process is hindered giving rise to bizarre neuropsychiatric disorders. One such disorder is known as Tourette Syndrome, or TS. TS is characterised by various tics, one of which is the very intriguing and involuntary outburst of obscene words or remarks that are socially inappropriate and offensive - a tic known as coprolalia. In the past 30 years, it has become apparent that TS is caused by genetic and environmental factors, although scientists were having troubling pinning down the genetic culprit. Until recently when a protein known as SLIT and NTRK-like protein 1 - or Slitrk1 - proved to have a direct role in this odd disorder.
More from Protein Spotlight
Tales From A Small World
Tales From A Small World is a collection of the first hundred articles which originally appeared on this site. Published in September 2009, the book is enriched by poems from the Dublin poet, Pat Ingoldsby. Learn more and order your copy online.
Journey Into A Tiny World
« Globin and Poietin set out to save Lily's life. But time is running short and they can't find the marrow... Here is the tale of their courage, fun and laughter on a journey that takes them deep into the tiniest of worlds.» For children. Learn more and order your copy online.
Snapshot : Beta-arrestin 2 and pde4
In the 1960s, a team of researchers working for Macfarlan Smith – a world leader in the production of alkaloid opiates – was knocked unconscious after having drunk their morning tea which they had inadvertently stirred with a contaminated rod. Upon inspection, it turned out that the rod had been imbibed with what is now known as etorphine, an opioid analogue of morphine, but so much more potent that it is used to subdue the likes of elephants or rhinos.
A little bit of praise!
“I recently stumbled upon your columns. Let me congratulate you on achieving the near impossible, for your articles have enabled me to successfully marry IT with the Life Sciences and better explain the concepts of bioinformatics to those who are not in the know of the field.
Your articles are very well written, lucid, and contain just enough information to excite the reader to want to learn more about the topic being discussed. They fall in a very rare category where they are accessible to everyone, from the undergraduate students to research students who want to have a basic idea of the topics being discussed. Some of your articles, like "Our hollow architecture" and "Throb" are outstanding pieces.
I would highly recommend your articles as a necessary reading in undergrad classes to get students inspired about the various avenues of research.”