You are in a maze of twisty little proteins, all alike

Time magazine has a brief but somewhat intricate article describing the relationship between the synapse and the APC protein.

It has a spectacularly complex and labyrinthine metaphor that doesn’t really help me understand what’s being discussed but is, nonetheless, a joy to read.

Findings by neuroscientists in various Tufts graduate programs—published in the August 18 issue of The Journal of Neuroscience—show a link between the APC protein and the development, or lack thereof, of something called a synapse.

If a synapse were a traffic intersection, the APC protein would be those annoying bridge tolls that are later used to develop roadways. Only instead of freight and passengers, the vehicles on this highway would carry information between neurons. A lack of tax collection will inhibit the development of the intersection—think potholes and faded, unreadable road signs—so that vehicles won’t be able to cross in the intended and most efficient way. In the same way, APC impairment blocks the synapse maturation that is crucial to the mental processes of learning and using memory.


Link to brief Time article (via @stevesilberman).


  1. Monkha
    Posted August 25, 2010 at 3:08 pm | Permalink

    Yep. And a good material for the Language Log folks.

  2. AnneS
    Posted August 26, 2010 at 1:40 pm | Permalink

    I laughed out loud at the headline – never did solve that maze in ‘Zork’.

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