Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Researchers Discover Gene That Contributes To Sense Of Balance

Date:
March 25, 2003
Source:
Washington University School Of Medicine
Summary:
Researchers have discovered a gene that appears to be critical for maintaining a healthy sense of balance in mice.

St. Louis, March 24, 2003 -- Researchers have discovered a gene that appears to be critical for maintaining a healthy sense of balance in mice. The study, led by a team at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis, appears in the April 1 issue of the journal Human Molecular Genetics and online March 24.

Related Articles


"Loss of balance is a significant problem in the elderly because it can lead to dangerous falls and injuries," says one of the study's principal investigators, David M. Ornitz, M.D., Ph.D., professor of molecular biology and pharmacology at the School of Medicine. "Loss of balance also is a problem for astronauts following exposure to zero gravity. Now that we've discovered this new gene, we can begin to understand the mechanisms that allow the body to sense gravity and maintain balance."

Balance is determined and regulated by the vestibular system, which is housed in the inner ear. To detect gravity, a cluster of particles called otoconia rests atop hair cells lining the inner ear. Like a water buoy guided by the movement of waves, otoconia are displaced as the body moves. As otoconia move, they shift the hair cells, which triggers the cells to send messages to the brain.

Studies suggest that otoconia are only produced during development, and that they progressively degrade throughout life. Scientists believe otoconia become eroded during normal aging, which can lead to balance disorders. But little is understood about how otoconia develop, and whether it may be possible to stimulate the production or regeneration of these particles.

Ornitz's team genetically analyzed two strains of mice tilted (tlt) and mergulhador (mlh) known to have problems with balance. These mice walk with their heads tilted and have trouble orienting themselves in water but have no hearing problems. Moreover, they are missing their otoconia but have normal sensory hair cells. The team discovered that the two strains both have a mutation in the same previously unidentified gene, which the researchers named Otopetrin 1 or Otop1 ("oto" means "ear" and "petra" means "stone").

"It's possible that this is one of the genes that shuts down after development," Ornitz says. "It also is possible that it is involved in a variety of vestibular disorders. If we can find a way to reactivate this gene, we may be able to help otoconia regenerate and thereby treat or prevent balance disorders."

The study's other principal investigators are Isolde Thalmann, Ph.D., research professor of otolaryngology, and Ruediger Thalmann, M.D., professor emiriti of otolaryngology. Postdoctoral fellow Belen Hurle, Ph.D., was first author. The School of Medicine team worked in collaboration with researchers at the University of São Paulo, Brazil.

Hurle B, Ignatova E, Massironi SM, Mashimo T, Rios X, Thalmann I, Thalmann R, Ornitz DM. Non-syndromic vestibular disorder with otoconial agenesis in Tilted mice caused by mutations in otopetrin 1. Human Molecular Genetics, April 1, 2003.

Funding from the National Institutes of Health supported this research.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Washington University School Of Medicine. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

Washington University School Of Medicine. "Researchers Discover Gene That Contributes To Sense Of Balance." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 25 March 2003. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2003/03/030325071752.htm>.
Washington University School Of Medicine. (2003, March 25). Researchers Discover Gene That Contributes To Sense Of Balance. ScienceDaily. Retrieved November 1, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2003/03/030325071752.htm
Washington University School Of Medicine. "Researchers Discover Gene That Contributes To Sense Of Balance." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2003/03/030325071752.htm (accessed November 1, 2014).

Share This



More Health & Medicine News

Saturday, November 1, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Melafind: Spotting Melanoma Without a Biopsy

Melafind: Spotting Melanoma Without a Biopsy

Ivanhoe (Oct. 31, 2014) — The MelaFind device is a pain-free way to check suspicious moles for melanoma, without the need for a biopsy. Video provided by Ivanhoe
Powered by NewsLook.com
Battling Multiple Myeloma

Battling Multiple Myeloma

Ivanhoe (Oct. 31, 2014) — The answer isn’t always found in new drugs – repurposing an ‘old’ drug that could mean better multiple myeloma treatment, and hope. Video provided by Ivanhoe
Powered by NewsLook.com
Chronic Inflammation and Prostate Cancer

Chronic Inflammation and Prostate Cancer

Ivanhoe (Oct. 31, 2014) — New information that is linking chronic inflammation in the prostate and prostate cancer, which may help doctors and patients prevent cancer in the future. Video provided by Ivanhoe
Powered by NewsLook.com
Sickle Cell: Stopping Kids’ Silent Strokes

Sickle Cell: Stopping Kids’ Silent Strokes

Ivanhoe (Oct. 31, 2014) — Blood transfusions are proving crucial to young sickle cell patients by helping prevent strokes, even when there is no outward sign of brain injury. Video provided by Ivanhoe
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:

Strange & Offbeat Stories

 

Health & Medicine

Mind & Brain

Living & Well

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