DNA double-strand breaks are associated with cancer and aging. A new study shows neurons can use them to quickly express genes related to learning and memory.
Faced with a threat, the brain has to act fast, its neurons making new connections to learn what might spell the difference between life and death. But in its response, the brain also raises the stakes: As an unsettling recent discovery shows, to express learning and memory genes more quickly, brain cells snap their DNA into pieces at many key points, and then rebuild their fractured genome later.
The finding doesn’t just provide insights into the nature of the brain’s plasticity. It also demonstrates that
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