The release of neurotransmitters and hormones in the body is tightly controlled by complex protein machinery embedded in cell membranes.
Manipulating that machinery with drugs could improve treatment of disorders ranging from diabetes to Parkinson’s disease. Progress has been slow, however, because of the lack of an animal model to test the effects of potential drugs. Until now.
Last week Vanderbilt University pharmacologist Heidi Hamm, PhD, and her colleagues reported the first animal model of an important feedback mechanism, essentially a “shut-off valve” for neurotransmitter and hormone release through SNARE complex-mediated membrane fusion.