Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Mutant mouse reveals potential genetic pathway for alcoholism

Date:
August 13, 2010
Source:
University of California - San Francisco
Summary:
A mutation found in a mouse gene that also appears in humans might provide new insights into the genetic roots of alcoholism, according to a new study.

A mutation found in a mouse gene that also appears in humans might provide new insights into the genetic roots of alcoholism, according to a study led by researchers at the Ernest Gallo Clinic and Research Center and the University of California, San Francisco.

Related Articles


The study appears in the August 12, 2010, edition of PLoS Genetics.

The researchers found that the mutant mice were dramatically more sensitive to alcohol than their normal, wild-type littermates, and voluntarily consumed more alcohol than normal mice when offered the choice between alcohol and water.

The mutation, which the researchers named Lightweight, is in the mouse version of a gene called unc-79, which previous studies in worms and flies have shown is associated with altered sensitivity to a variety of anesthetics, including alcohol.

Lead author David J. Speca, PhD, who was a Gallo Center researcher at the time the study was conducted, says that the name Lightweight refers to the fact that when unc-79 mutant mice are injected with pure ethanol -- the type of alcohol used in alcoholic beverages -- "they are knocked out for far longer than normal mice."

The function of unc-79 is not well understood, says Speca, but he notes that experiments by other researchers suggest it may interact with a neuron channel (a complex of proteins essential to neuron function) named NALCN to influence neuronal response to alcohol.

Although the current study did not demonstrate an interaction with the NALCN channel in Lightweight mice, Speca says that follow-up experiments in Caenorhabditis elegans, a worm commonly used in biological experiments, showed that the NALCN channel influences responses to alcohol, "suggesting that this response may be conserved from worms to mice to humans."

According to Speca, identifying the factors that make humans susceptible to alcoholism is difficult because of the likelihood that there are multiple genes, each with its own effect, that contribute to the disease. The question now, he says, is whether unc-79 and the NALCN neuron channel turn out to be associated with altered responses to alcohol in humans.

"Nobody has ever studied this channel in humans before," notes Speca. "There's a chance that it's part of a new and relatively unexplored genetic pathway that may tell us something about human susceptibility to alcoholism."

Co-authors of the study were Daisuke Chihara, Amir M. Ashique, M. Scott Bowers, Jonathan T. Pierce-Shimomura, and Jungsoo Lee of the Gallo Center and UCSF; Nusrat Rabbee and Terence P. Speed of the University of California, Berkeley; Rodrigo J. Gularte, James Chitwood, and Juan F. Medrano of the University of California, Davis; Mark Liao, James M. Sonner, and Edmond I. Eger II of UCSF; and principal investigators Andrew S. Peterson, PhD, and Steven L. McIntire, MD, PhD, of the Gallo Center and UCSF (all author affiliations current at the time of the study).


Story Source:

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


Journal Reference:

  1. Speca DJ, Chihara D, Ashique AM, Bowers MS, Pierce-Shimomura JT, et al. Conserved Role of unc-79 in Ethanol Responses in Lightweight Mutant Mice. PLoS Genetics, 2010; 6 (8): e1001057 DOI: 10.1371/journal.pgen.1001057

Cite This Page:

University of California - San Francisco. "Mutant mouse reveals potential genetic pathway for alcoholism." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 13 August 2010. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/08/100812172044.htm>.
University of California - San Francisco. (2010, August 13). Mutant mouse reveals potential genetic pathway for alcoholism. ScienceDaily. Retrieved December 20, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/08/100812172044.htm
University of California - San Francisco. "Mutant mouse reveals potential genetic pathway for alcoholism." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/08/100812172044.htm (accessed December 20, 2014).

Share This


More From ScienceDaily



More Mind & Brain News

Saturday, December 20, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Researchers Test Colombian Village With High Alzheimer's Rates

Researchers Test Colombian Village With High Alzheimer's Rates

AFP (Dec. 19, 2014) In Yarumal, a village in N. Colombia, Alzheimer's has ravaged a disproportionately large number of families. A genetic "curse" that may pave the way for research on how to treat the disease that claims a new victim every four seconds. Duration: 02:42 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Double-Amputee Becomes First To Move Two Prosthetic Arms With His Mind

Double-Amputee Becomes First To Move Two Prosthetic Arms With His Mind

Buzz60 (Dec. 19, 2014) A double-amputee makes history by becoming the first person to wear and operate two prosthetic arms using only his mind. Jen Markham has the story. Video provided by Buzz60
Powered by NewsLook.com
Prenatal Exposure To Pollution Might Increase Autism Risk

Prenatal Exposure To Pollution Might Increase Autism Risk

Newsy (Dec. 18, 2014) Harvard researchers found children whose mothers were exposed to high pollution levels in the third trimester were twice as likely to develop autism. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Yoga Could Be As Beneficial For The Heart As Walking, Biking

Yoga Could Be As Beneficial For The Heart As Walking, Biking

Newsy (Dec. 17, 2014) Yoga can help your weight, blood pressure, cholesterol and heart just as much as biking and walking does, a new study suggests. 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:

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