Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Brain Tissue Reveals Possible Genetic Trigger For Schizophrenia

Date:
March 30, 2007
Source:
University of North Carolina School of Medicine
Summary:
Scientists may have identified a molecular mechanism involved in the development of schizophrenia. In studying the postmortem brain tissue of adults who had been diagnosed with schizophrenia, the researchers found that levels of certain gene-regulating molecules called microRNAs were lower among schizophrenia patients than in persons who were free of psychiatric illness.

A study led by scientists from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill may have identified a molecular mechanism involved in the development of schizophrenia.

In studying the postmortem brain tissue of adults who had been diagnosed with schizophrenia, the researchers found that levels of certain gene-regulating molecules called microRNAs were lower among schizophrenia patients than in persons who were free of psychiatric illness.

"In many genetic diseases, such as Huntington's disease or cystic fibrosis, the basis is a gene mutation that leads to a malformed protein. But with other complex genetic disorders -- such as schizophrenia, many cancers, and diabetes -- we find not mutated proteins, but correctly formed proteins in incorrect amounts," said study lead author and UNC professor of psychiatry Dr. Diana Perkins.

The research appears this week in the online edition of the journal Genome Biology. "To our knowledge this study is the first to associate altered expression of microRNAs with schizophrenia," the authors stated.

Since the 1950s, scientists have known that the genetic code stored in DNA is first transcribed into messenger RNA (mRNA) which is then the template from which the body's protein building blocks are made. MicroRNAs are a newly discovered class of mRNA that does not carry the code for a protein. Instead, these tiny strands of RNA act by binding to matching pieces of the protein coding mRNA, thus preventing the translation of mRNA to protein. When a cell needs certain proteins, the microRNAs may disconnect, thus allowing protein expression to resume.

Using postmortem prefrontal cortical brain tissue of people with schizophrenia and persons who had no psychiatric illness, the researchers found for the first time a significant difference in the microRNA expression profile. Fifteen microRNAs were expressed at a lower level and one at a higher level in the brain tissue from persons with schizophrenia. The basic activity of this "executive" brain region is the orchestration of thoughts and actions in accordance with internal goals.

Previous studies have shown that microRNAs play a role in regulating brain development. They also figure importantly in "synaptic plasticity," the ability of neurons to make connections with one another. "And those connections between neurons come and go all the time. It's a normal process for them to be pruned and grow again, depending on what the brain needs to do to interact with the environment," Perkins explained.

"There is growing evidence that schizophrenia may related to disordered synaptic plasticity," she added. "Our study found a striking, significant difference in microRNA expression between people with schizophrenia and healthy people. Using bioinformatic analyses, we found that the distinguishing microRNAs appear to regulate genes involved in synaptic plasticity."

Acknowledging this was a pilot study, Perkins and her colleagues plan further research with larger tissue samples.

Research was supported in part by grants from the National Institutes of Health, the Elsa U. Pardee Foundation, the Foundation of Hope and the American Cancer Society.

Study co-authors at UNC include Dr. Clark Jeffries, research professor in the School of Pharmacy and senior bioinformatics research scientist at the UNC-based Renaissance Computing Institute (RENCI); Dr. L. Fredrik Jarskog, associate professor, department of psychiatry; Dr. J. Michael Thomson, postdoctoral scientist, Keith Woods, research specialist, Martin A. Newman, graduate student, and Dr. Scott M. Hammond, assistant professor, all of the department of cell and developmental biology; and Dr. Jianping Jin, bioinformatics staff scientist, department of molecular biology. Co-author Joel S. Parker is a research bioinformaticist with Constella Group LLC in Durham, N.C.


Story Source:

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


Cite This Page:

University of North Carolina School of Medicine. "Brain Tissue Reveals Possible Genetic Trigger For Schizophrenia." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 30 March 2007. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2007/03/070328155403.htm>.
University of North Carolina School of Medicine. (2007, March 30). Brain Tissue Reveals Possible Genetic Trigger For Schizophrenia. ScienceDaily. Retrieved April 16, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2007/03/070328155403.htm
University of North Carolina School of Medicine. "Brain Tissue Reveals Possible Genetic Trigger For Schizophrenia." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2007/03/070328155403.htm (accessed April 16, 2014).

Share This



More Mind & Brain News

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Are School Dress Codes Too Strict?

Are School Dress Codes Too Strict?

AP (Apr. 16, 2014) Pushing the limits on style and self-expression is a rite of passage for teens and even younger kids. How far should schools go with their dress codes? The courts have sided with schools in an era when school safety is paramount. (April 16) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Could Even Casual Marijuana Use Alter Your Brain?

Could Even Casual Marijuana Use Alter Your Brain?

Newsy (Apr. 16, 2014) A new study conducted by researchers at Northwestern and Harvard suggests even casual marijuana use can alter your brain. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Cognitive Function: Is It All Downhill From Age 24?

Cognitive Function: Is It All Downhill From Age 24?

Newsy (Apr. 15, 2014) A new study out of Canada says cognitive motor performance begins deteriorating around age 24. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
App Fights Jet Lag With The Power Of Math

App Fights Jet Lag With The Power Of Math

Newsy (Apr. 13, 2014) Researchers at the University of Michigan have designed an app to fight jet lag by adjusting your body's light intake. Video provided by Newsy
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