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Motor neuron and astrocyte


Pellecchia and colleagues hypothesize that interactions between motor neurons and astrocytes are responsible at least in part for the progression of motor neuron death in ALS patients. These interactions are mediated by the EphA4 receptor on motor neurons (which has several structural domains ending with the ligand binding domain in dark blue) and the protein ephrin-B2 (light blue) located on the surface of astrocytes – star-shaped glial cells in the brain and spinal cord. The investigative team has developed a molecule that is capable of breaking the interactions between the EphA4-ligand binding domain and ephrin-B2. The team hypothesizes that such an experimental therapeutic prevents astrocytes from interacting with and inducing motor neuron cell death with yet unknown mechanisms.Image credit: Pellecchia lab, UC Riverside.