Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Hopkins Researchers Closing In On Manic-Depressive Gene

Date:
December 8, 1997
Source:
Johns Hopkins Medical Institutions
Summary:
Johns Hopkins researchers have confirmed that a gene related to bipolar disorder in families is located in the "long arm" of human chromosome 18.

Johns Hopkins researchers have confirmed that a gene related to bipolar disorder in families is located in the "long arm" of human chromosome 18. The new results strengthened an earlier Hopkins study, making the linkage among the first genetic connections to a psychiatric illness to be reinforced by a second study.

"If you think of all the human chromosomes as a city, we've clearly found the block where a gene that helps cause some forms of bipolar disorder resides," says Francis McMahon, M.D., associate professor of psychiatry and lead author of a report in the December issue of the American Journal of Human Genetics.

The exact gene and the nature of the protein it makes is not known, but there are some potential suspects in this area. Finding the gene should help scientists make sense of bipolar disorder's physical effects on the brain and develop tests and better treatments, according to McMahon.

"We know that many of the message-sending and mood-regulating chemical systems of the brain are disrupted in bipolar patients," says McMahon. "But it's very difficult to determine the chain of events for all these changes. Finding genes can help us organize symptoms and work the problem from the bottom up: system A disrupts system B, which unsettles system C and so on."

McMahon and his Hopkins colleagues interviewed and took blood samples from 259 individuals from 30 different families in which at least one family member had demonstrated, medically evaluated bipolar disorder, which is marked by extreme emotional swings from explosive elation to suicidal depression. In the general population, one in every 100 persons has the disorder.

Scientists selected sets of markers on chromosome 18 -- patterns of genetic code that allowed them to follow the chromosome's passage from parent to child.

They compared patterns of inheritance of these markers with the psychiatric evaluation of study patients. They found that children who developed bipolar disorder were significantly more likely to receive their copy of chromosome 18 from fathers, even if the fathers didn't have the disorder.

One potential explanation is genetic imprinting, McMahon notes, a phenomenon in which genes are differently "tagged" and differently expressed depending on whether they came from the mother or the father.

Like finding the call numbers for a book in a library, mapping a gene tells scientists where to look for the gene so they can try to "pull it from the shelves," or isolate it, and "read" its contents.

Relatively little is known about the genes on chromosome 18, whose asymmetric shape gives it a "long arm" and a "short arm." The new study indicates the "long arm" probably contains a bipolar disorder gene. One potential suspect in this area is a gene for a melanocortin receptor, a protein that binds to an important hormonal regulator of the brain.

"Theoretically, changes in this receptor could have a whole-brain effect on mood," says McMahon. "It's a shot in the dark, but it's worth following up." Scientists also will try to tighten their search. "It's nice to have the search narrowed down to this city block', but there are still probably several hundred genes in this region," he says. "We'd like to narrow that down to a smaller area where we might have 25 to 50 genes to investigate."

Hopkins researchers have sent their blood samples to the Center for Inherited Disease Research (CIDR), a new facility at Johns Hopkins Bayview Medical Center that helps scientists rapidly search DNA for disease-linked genes.

Created through a contract between the Hopkins School of Medicine and the National Institutes of Health, CIDR will apply the latest technology and new analytical methods to search beyond chromosome 18 for signs of other genes involved in manic depression.

Funding for this study was provided by the Dana Foundation for Brain Research, the National Institutes of Health, and the National Alliance for Research on Schizophrenia and Depression.

Other authors were P.J. Hopkins, J. Xu, M.G. McInnis, S. Shaw, L. Cardon, S.G. Simpson, D.F. MacKinnon, O.C. Stine, R. Sherrington, D.A. Meyers, and J. Raymond DePaulo.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Johns Hopkins Medical Institutions. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

Johns Hopkins Medical Institutions. "Hopkins Researchers Closing In On Manic-Depressive Gene." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 8 December 1997. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/1997/12/971208072004.htm>.
Johns Hopkins Medical Institutions. (1997, December 8). Hopkins Researchers Closing In On Manic-Depressive Gene. ScienceDaily. Retrieved August 21, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/1997/12/971208072004.htm
Johns Hopkins Medical Institutions. "Hopkins Researchers Closing In On Manic-Depressive Gene." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/1997/12/971208072004.htm (accessed August 21, 2014).

Share This




More Health & Medicine News

Thursday, August 21, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Drug Used To Treat 'Ebola's Cousin' Shows Promise

Drug Used To Treat 'Ebola's Cousin' Shows Promise

Newsy (Aug. 21, 2014) — An experimental drug used to treat Marburg virus in rhesus monkeys could give new insight into a similar treatment for Ebola. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Cadavers, a Teen, and a Medical School Dream

Cadavers, a Teen, and a Medical School Dream

AP (Aug. 21, 2014) — Contains graphic content. He's only 17. But Johntrell Bowles has wanted to be a doctor from a young age, despite the odds against him. He was recently the youngest participant in a cadaver program at the Indiana University NW medical school. (Aug. 21) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Ramen Health Risks: The Dark Side of the Noodle

Ramen Health Risks: The Dark Side of the Noodle

AP (Aug. 21, 2014) — South Koreans eat more instant ramen noodles per capita than anywhere else in the world. But American researchers say eating too much may increase the risk of diabetes, heart disease and stroke. (Aug. 21) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Possible Ebola Patient in Isolation at California Hospital

Possible Ebola Patient in Isolation at California Hospital

Reuters - US Online Video (Aug. 20, 2014) — A patient who may have been exposed to the Ebola virus is in isolation at the Kaiser Permanente South Sacramento Medical Center. Linda So reports. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
 
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:  

Breaking News:
from the past week

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:  

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile iPhone Android Web
Follow Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins