Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Genetic clues to compulsive, self-injurious behavior in rare childhood disorder

Date:
January 31, 2011
Source:
University of California - San Diego
Summary:
Research provides new clues for the compulsive behavior and cognitive defects associated with a rare childhood neurological disease called Lesch-Nyhan Disease (LND). Two pathways found to be defective in LND are known to be associated with other neurodegenerative disease, such as Alzheimer's and Parknson's diseases, suggesting common causes of cognitive and behavioral defects in these neurological disorders.

Research from the University of California, San Diego School of Medicine provides new clues for the compulsive behavior and cognitive defects associated with a rare childhood neurological disease called Lesch-Nyhan Disease (LND). Two pathways found to be defective in LND are known to be associated with other neurodegenerative disease, such as Alzheimer's and Parknson's diseases, suggesting common causes of cognitive and behavioral defects in these neurological disorders.

Related Articles


The research is published online January 29 in the PLoS ONE.

"This study is important because it opens completely new and unexpected areas of research into the genetic cause of compulsive and self-injurious behavior in Lesch-Nyhan disease," said principal investigator Theodore Friedmann, MD, professor of pediatrics at UCSD's Center for Neural Circuit and Behavior and Rady Children's Hospital-San Diego, a research and teaching affiliate of the UCSD School of Medicine.

"We think that the findings also have implications for far more common diseases related to the central nervous system, such as Alzheimer's and Parkinson's diseases, since defects similar or related to those that we've found are also seen in other neurodegenerative diseases -- suggesting common mechanisms for some of the cognitive, behavioral and neurological defects in all these disorders," Friedmann added.

LND is an inherited disease caused by a deficiency of the HGPRT enzyme, produced by mutations in the HPRT gene located on the X chromosome, which causes a build-up of uric acid in all bodily fluids. The rare disorder, first identified by medical student Michael Lesch and his mentor, William L. Nyhan -- currently a research professor of pediatrics at UC San Diego School of Medicine -- is almost always seen in males. Complications usually appear in the first year of life, with neurological signs including poor muscle control and moderate cognitive deficiencies. A particularly disturbing aspect of the disease is uncontrollable and involuntary compulsive self-mutilating behaviors, characterized by lip and finger biting.

The late J. Edwin Seegmiller, MD, a pioneer in the field of human genetics and founding faculty member of the UCSD School of Medicine, first found that the HGPRT enzyme was missing in children with Lesch Nyhan Disease. Friedmann -- who had studied in the Seegmiller lab at the National Institutes of Health and later joined UCSD's pediatric department -- was the first to isolate and study the human HPRT gene.

Now Friedmann and his team have discovered a connection between defects in the HPRT gene and two well-known signaling pathways. These defects were known to be associated with other neurological diseases including Parkinson's, Alzheimer's and Huntington diseases, but they had not previously been connected to LND.

HPRT is one of what is known as "housekeeping genes" that are expressed in most cells and usually thought to have simple functions in regulating metabolism and not necessarily in regulating complex processes in embryonic and neurological development. However, in 2009, Friedman's lab showed that HPRT plays an important role in affecting how transcription factor genes are expressed, and thus helps regulate important developmental pathways.

In this study, the researchers identified a number of signaling pathways that are significantly altered in HPRT-deficient cells, including aberrations related to the Wnt and presenilin (PS)-1 pathways. Wnt signaling controls many aspects of vertebrate development and biological processes including stem cell self-renewal and differentiation and neural pathway development, among others. Defects in the PS-1 signaling pathway play a causal role in forms of familial Alzheimer's disease, and also interact with Wnt.

Analyzing microarray-based gene expression data, the researchers found that the abnormal purine metabolism found in patients with LND causes defects in these two pathways. Interactions between the Wnt and PS-1 signaling pathways also suggest that they may cooperate in other neurodegenerative diseases.

"Such similarities in cell function are not likely to be coincidental," said Friedmann. "Instead, they offer important clues to cognitive defects and open up new targets for therapies to treat these diseases."

Additional contributors include first author Tae Hyuk Kang and Ghiabe-Henri Guibinga, both at UC San Diego and Rady Children's Hospital-San Diego.


Story Source:

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


Journal Reference:

  1. Tae Hyuk Kang, Ghiabe-Henri Guibinga, Theodore Friedmann. HPRT Deficiency Coordinately Dysregulates Canonical Wnt and Presenilin-1 Signaling: A Neuro-Developmental Regulatory Role for a Housekeeping Gene? PLoS ONE, 2011; 6 (1): e16572 DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0016572

Cite This Page:

University of California - San Diego. "Genetic clues to compulsive, self-injurious behavior in rare childhood disorder." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 31 January 2011. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/01/110129081526.htm>.
University of California - San Diego. (2011, January 31). Genetic clues to compulsive, self-injurious behavior in rare childhood disorder. ScienceDaily. Retrieved November 25, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/01/110129081526.htm
University of California - San Diego. "Genetic clues to compulsive, self-injurious behavior in rare childhood disorder." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/01/110129081526.htm (accessed November 25, 2014).

Share This


More From ScienceDaily



More Health & Medicine News

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

From Popcorn To Vending Snacks: FDA Ups Calorie Count Rules

From Popcorn To Vending Snacks: FDA Ups Calorie Count Rules

Newsy (Nov. 25, 2014) The US FDA is announcing new calorie rules on Tuesday that will require everywhere from theaters to vending machines to include calorie counts. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Daily Serving Of Yogurt Could Reduce Risk Of Type 2 Diabetes

Daily Serving Of Yogurt Could Reduce Risk Of Type 2 Diabetes

Newsy (Nov. 25, 2014) Need another reason to eat yogurt every day? Researchers now say it could reduce a person's risk of developing type 2 diabetes. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Madagascar Working to Contain Plague Outbreak

Madagascar Working to Contain Plague Outbreak

AFP (Nov. 24, 2014) Madagascar said Monday it is trying to contain an outbreak of plague -- similar to the Black Death that swept Medieval Europe -- that has killed 40 people and is spreading to the capital Antananarivo. Duration: 00:42 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Are Female Bosses More Likely To Be Depressed?

Are Female Bosses More Likely To Be Depressed?

Newsy (Nov. 24, 2014) A new study links greater authority with increased depressive symptoms among women in the workplace. 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