Reelin in the years

This Rube Goldberg-esque glycoprotein is called reelin:

Crystalline structure of reelin

It’s named for the reeler mouse, a mutant with really terrible motor skills.

Reelin is a complicated chemical found floating around in your body. Near as I can tell, it has some influence over the central nervous system. I got onto this from a Reddit link to a Wikipedia passage about schizophrenia, one of my least favorite diseases.

It’s a busy little substance:

Reelin has been suggested to be implicated in pathogenesis of several brain diseases. The expression of the protein has been found to be significantly lower in schizophrenia and psychotic bipolar disorder, but the cause of this observation remains uncertain as studies show that psychotropic medication itself affects reelin expression. Moreover, epigenetic hypotheses aimed at explaining the changed levels of reelin expression are controversial. Total lack of reelin causes a form of lissencephaly. Reelin may also play a role in Alzheimer’s disease, temporal lobe epilepsy and autism.

A mere 3,461 amino acids go into this stuff, which sort of reminds me of why I never became a chemist:

I’m not very good at chemistry. Oh, I understand the basics well enough, water is made of two hydrogen atoms and one oxygen atom, but once you get past the basics there is an endless profusion of chemical compounds and I quickly become lost. It’s almost like the English language, you can stick words, or atoms, together in a limitless number of ways. If you use it every day, those combinations will become familiar to you, like the books you have read. But if you don’t immerse yourself in this sea of arcane knowledge it will always be gibberish.

And even then, I suspect, you’re always going to be at least somewhat behind the times.


  1. McG »

    19 September 2017 · 7:31 am

    Any protein that looks like a strand of Christmas lights right out of the box from the attic, is bound to be trouble.

  2. Holly H »

    19 September 2017 · 10:41 am


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