Alexei Morozov and colleagues discover a protein that regulates synaptic ion channels that have been tied to bipolar disorder and schizophrenia

Alexei Morozov, Ph.D.

Alexei Morozov, Ph.D.

Researchers have discovered a pathway by which the brain controls a molecule critical to forming long-term memories and connected with bipolar disorder and schizophrenia. The discovery, published in The Journal of Neuroscience, was made by a team of scientists led by Alexei Morozov, an assistant professor at the Virginia Tech Carilion Research Institute.

The mechanism – a protein called Rap1 – controls L-type calcium channels, which participate in the formation of long-term memories. Previous studies have also linked alterations in these ion channels to certain psychiatric disorders. The discovery of the channels’ regulation by Rap1 could help scientists understand the physiological genesis of bipolar disorder and schizophrenia.

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