Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Genetic Variation Helps To Understand Predisposition To Schizophrenia

Date:
August 10, 2007
Source:
American Society for Biochemistry and Molecular Biology
Summary:
Scientists have provided new insight into how a gene is related to schizophrenia. They describe for the first time a genetic variation that causes a gene to be overexpressed in the human brain. These results may provide a new way to design better drugs to treat schizophrenia.

Scientists have provided new insight into how a gene is related to schizophrenia. In a study to be published in the August 17 issue of the Journal of Biological Chemistry, Amanda J. Law, Medical Research Council Fellow and Associate Professor at the University of Oxford, United Kingdom, and visiting scientist at the National Institutes of Health (NIH), along with colleagues at NIH describe for the first time a genetic variation that causes a gene to be overexpressed in the human brain. These results may provide a new way to design better drugs to treat schizophrenia.

"Although the exact causes of schizophrenia are yet to be determined, scientists agree that the disease is in part due to genetic variations," Law says. "These variations are not simple to understand because they don't directly disturb the function of proteins. In our study, we identified some clues as to what goes wrong with one of these DNA variations."

Scientists originally found in an Icelandic population that genetic variations in a DNA sequence close to a gene that produces a protein called Neuregulin 1 were associated with schizophrenia, but how the Neuregulin 1 gene was affected remained unknown.

In 2006, Law and colleagues found that one of these DNA variations is associated with increased expression of a novel type of Neuregulin 1 called type 4 -- one of the six known types of Neuregulin 1 proteins -- in the brains of patients with schizophrenia.

The role of this protein in the brain is not completely understood but the other types of Neuregulin 1 proteins are involved in controlling how the brain develops and works in adults. In this study, Law and colleagues showed that Neuregulin 1 type 4 is specifically expressed in the brain -- unlike the other types of Neuregulin 1. Also, the scientists showed that this protein is 3.5 times more abundant in fetal than adult brains, supporting the protein's important role in the developing brain.

"Since the Neuregulin 1 protein plays a key role in brain development and is more abundant in fetal brains, DNA changes that alter the expression of this protein may contribute to schizophrenia by modifying the development and wiring of the brain," Law says. "By understanding how this novel protein works in the brain, we may be able to target it in people with the disease."

The researchers showed that the genetic change that causes overproduction of Neuregulin 1 type 4 is part of a DNA sequence called a promoter, which enables genes to be coded for proteins. A protein called a transcription factor binds to the promoter and helps other proteins to express the gene. When the promoter is altered, the transcription factor may not bind properly and impair genetic expression. Law and colleagues showed that alteration of the promoter in the genetic sequence linked to schizophrenia resulted in altered amounts of Neuregulin 1 type 4.

"For the first time, we have identified a promoter for the Neuregulin 1 gene and showed that the activity of that gene is altered by a single genetic variation in this promoter," Law says. "These results will probably help us understand how DNA variations affect the function of this gene and lead to symptoms of schizophrenia."

The researchers are now planning to investigate further the role of Neuregulin 1 type 4 in brain development and behavior and determine how various alterations of the Neuregulin 1 gene lead to schizophrenia.

"By better understanding the genetic causes of schizophrenia, we can start to make sense of the underlying biology of the disease and develop improved therapies based on people's genes," Law says. "The insight gained on the Neuregulin 1 gene is, I hope, bringing us closer to that goal."

The study was selected as a "Paper of the Week" by the journal's editors, meaning that it belongs to the top one percent of papers reviewed in significance and overall importance.

Article: "Molecular Cloning of a Brain-specific, Developmentally Regulated Neuregulin 1 (NRG1) Isoform and Identification of a Functional Promoter Variant Associated with Schizophrenia," by Wei Tan, Yanhong Wang, Bert Gold, Jingshan Chen, Michael Dean, Paul J. Harrison, Daniel R. Weinberger, and Amanda J. Law


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by American Society for Biochemistry and Molecular Biology. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

American Society for Biochemistry and Molecular Biology. "Genetic Variation Helps To Understand Predisposition To Schizophrenia." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 10 August 2007. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2007/08/070809172148.htm>.
American Society for Biochemistry and Molecular Biology. (2007, August 10). Genetic Variation Helps To Understand Predisposition To Schizophrenia. ScienceDaily. Retrieved August 1, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2007/08/070809172148.htm
American Society for Biochemistry and Molecular Biology. "Genetic Variation Helps To Understand Predisposition To Schizophrenia." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2007/08/070809172148.htm (accessed August 1, 2014).

Share This




More Health & Medicine News

Friday, August 1, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Texas Quintuplets Head Home

Texas Quintuplets Head Home

Reuters - US Online Video (Aug. 1, 2014) After four months in the hospital, the first quintuplets to be born at Baylor University Medical Center head home. Linda So reports. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
Ebola Patient Coming to U.S. for Treatment

Ebola Patient Coming to U.S. for Treatment

Reuters - US Online Video (Aug. 1, 2014) A U.S. aid worker infected with Ebola while working in West Africa will be treated in a high security ward at Emory University in Atlanta. Linda So reports. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
Ebola Vaccine Might Be Coming, But Where's It Been?

Ebola Vaccine Might Be Coming, But Where's It Been?

Newsy (Aug. 1, 2014) Health officials are working to fast-track a vaccine — the West-African Ebola outbreak has killed more than 700. But why didn't we already have one? Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Study Links Certain Birth Control Pills To Breast Cancer

Study Links Certain Birth Control Pills To Breast Cancer

Newsy (Aug. 1, 2014) Previous studies have made the link between birth control and breast cancer, but the latest makes the link to high-estrogen oral contraceptives. 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