USTC researchers have shed new lights on the correlation between sunlight exposure and related neurobehaviors. Combining single-cell mass spectrometry isotopic labelling technique, the multi-institutional team led by Prof. XIONG Wei and Prof. HUANG Guangming uncovered a novel sunlight-activated glutamate biosynthetic pathway in the mouse brain. Such pathway may fundamentally contribute to our daily neurobehaviors such as mood, learning and cognition. The research article entitled “Moderate UV Exposure Enhances Learning and Memory by Promoting a Novel Glutamate Biosynthetic Pathway in the Brain” is published in Cell on May 17th. According to Professor XIONG Wei from the School of Life Sciences, the ultraviolet (UV) light enhanced learning capacity has been observed on mice. “The mice without UV exposure typically require 6 rounds of training to adapt to the rotating rod,” says Professor XIONG Wei, “however for the UV-exposed mice, they become smarter and only require 4 rounds of training.” The mechanism is examined using interdisciplinary techniques. It is revealed that the moderate UV exposure elevates the blood urocanic acid (UCA), which is later converted to glutamate (GLU) in the brain cells. The as-synthesised GLU contributes to the enhanced learning capacity of mice. In addition to learning, such UV-triggered GLU synthesis could contribute to more sunlight-induced neurobehavioral changes such as memory and mood.
EurekAlert, 25 May 2018 ; http://www.eurekalert.org