Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Genes Linked To Parkinson's Protection Identified

Date:
January 25, 2008
Source:
University of Alabama
Summary:
Researchers have identified five genes within animal models displaying protective capabilities against a hallmark trait of Parkinson's disease. The research is a possible step toward identifying both new targets for drug treatment development and genetic factors which make some people more susceptible to the disease, the researchers said.

University of Alabama researchers have identified five genes within animal models displaying protective capabilities against a hallmark trait of Parkinson’s disease.

Related Articles


The research is a possible step toward identifying both new targets for drug treatment development and genetic factors which make some people more susceptible to the disease, the researchers said.

“We’ve found five genes so far that significantly protect dopamine neurons from dying within our animal models,” said Dr. Guy Caldwell, associate professor of biological sciences at UA and co-author of the research.

The UA researchers’ efforts, Caldwell said, represents one of the largest functional analyses of genes ever reported for Parkinson's disease. Shusei Hamamichi, a UA doctoral student, is lead author of the research paper and led the University’s effort, along with Renee Rivas and Adam Knight, two UA undergraduates, Songsong Cao, a former doctoral student, Dr. Kim Caldwell, assistant professor of biological sciences, and Guy Caldwell.

UA researchers used specific strains of tiny nematode worms as animal models for the research. These genetically engineered worms contain a human protein, alpha-synuclein, within their cells. Scientists have learned that people with too many copies of the code for alpha-synuclein within their DNA will contract Parkinson’s.

Extra copies of alpha-synuclein can lead to repeated protein misfolding and death of the dopamine producing neurons in the brain. In Parkinson’s patients, the death of these neurons leads to rigid and tremoring limbs, difficulty in movement and impaired reflexes. More than 1 million Americans are estimated to have Parkinson’s.

Utilizing bioinformatic databases – which contain an abundance of information related to various genes and their genetic associations – the UA researchers first mined the data, prioritizing 867 genes for testing.

Using a revolutionary technique known as RNA interference, or RNAi, Hamamichi removed, one at a time, the functions of each of the 867 genes from the tiny nematodes. This, Caldwell said, enabled the research team to investigate the impact the missing function would have on cellular processes.

“Of these approximate 900 genes, we narrowed it down to 20 top candidates that seemed to have the most significant affect on alpha-synuclein aggregation as the animals aged,” Caldwell said.

Importantly, secondary screening of the 20 genes has thus far revealed five that offer dopamine neurons protection from dying, Caldwell said. The gene identified as offering the most statistically significant protection is a subject of a Michael J. Fox Foundation Target Validation initiative. In that effort, the Caldwells, with foundation funding, are teaming with UAB’s Dr. David Standaert for additional research in mammalian models.

“Even though our functional analysis was done in a worm, worms have dopamine neurons, worms have many of the features in their cells that are shared with us,” said Guy Caldwell, a faculty member in UA’s College of Arts and Sciences. “There’s good reason to believe that things functionally discovered in worms will still have meaning in higher systems.”

More than 50 percent of all human hereditary diseases have been linked to genetic components also found in the worm, so it’s frequently used by scientists as a model on which to study human diseases. “The power of the animal is that we can screen through large numbers of genes very rapidly, and it’s inexpensive. While worms are wonderful, in order to identify a target for true therapeutic development, the best way is to go forward by validating in mammalian models of Parkinson’s.”

This research was published Jan. 8 in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences’ Early Edition.

The UA effort was supported by the Bachmann-Strauss Dystonia & Parkinson Foundation, the United Parkinson Foundation, the American Parkinson Disease Association, the Parkinson Association of Alabama Inc., the Michael J. Fox Foundation for Parkinson’s Research and an Undergraduate Research Science Program Grant from the Howard Hughes Medical Institute.


Story Source:

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


Cite This Page:

University of Alabama. "Genes Linked To Parkinson's Protection Identified." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 25 January 2008. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/01/080124194933.htm>.
University of Alabama. (2008, January 25). Genes Linked To Parkinson's Protection Identified. ScienceDaily. Retrieved January 27, 2015 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/01/080124194933.htm
University of Alabama. "Genes Linked To Parkinson's Protection Identified." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/01/080124194933.htm (accessed January 27, 2015).

Share This


More From ScienceDaily



More Health & Medicine News

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Ebola Mistakes Should Serve a Lesson Says WHO

Ebola Mistakes Should Serve a Lesson Says WHO

AFP (Jan. 25, 2015) The World Health Organization&apos;s chief on Sunday admitted the UN agency had been caught napping on Ebola, saying it should serve a lesson to avoid similar mistakes in future. Duration: 00:55 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Disneyland Measles Outbreak Spreads To 5 States

Disneyland Measles Outbreak Spreads To 5 States

Newsy (Jan. 24, 2015) Much of the Disneyland measles outbreak is being blamed on the anti-vaccination movement. The CDC encourages just about everyone get immunized. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Growing Measles Outbreak Worries Calif. Parents

Growing Measles Outbreak Worries Calif. Parents

AP (Jan. 23, 2015) Public health officials are rushing to contain a measles outbreak that has sickened 70 people across 6 states and Mexico. The AP&apos;s Raquel Maria Dillon has more. (Jan. 23) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Smart Wristband to Shock Away Bad Habits

Smart Wristband to Shock Away Bad Habits

Reuters - Innovations Video Online (Jan. 23, 2015) A Boston start-up is developing a wristband they say will help users break bad habits by jolting them with an electric shock. Ben Gruber 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:

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