During brain development signaling proteins guide traveling neurons and their axons. These proteins do so by binding the receptor on the cell membrane of the neuron. For a long time it was thought that when two different proteins are close to the receptor they compete for binding. However, we found that instead of competing for binding, two different proteins can both bind the receptor at the same time. When this binding occurs the receptor is turned off, meaning that the neuron turns insensitive to signals. Because we now better understand this mechanism we might be able to use this knowledge in the future to answer disease-related questions.
Together with other astrocyte researchers, Translational Neuroscience researcher Elly Hol wrote this highly needed paper for the field. This paper will be an important overview for all interested in reactive astrocytes in brain diseases.