Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Cause of rare disease discovered

Date:
December 19, 2011
Source:
University of California - San Francisco
Summary:
Scientists have identified the gene that causes a rare childhood neurological disorder called PKD/IC, or "paroxysmal kinesigenic dyskinesia with infantile convulsions," a cause of epilepsy in babies and movement disorders in older children.

A large, international team of researchers led by scientists at the University of California, San Francisco (UCSF) has identified the gene that causes a rare childhood neurological disorder called PKD/IC, or "paroxysmal kinesigenic dyskinesia with infantile convulsions," a cause of epilepsy in babies and movement disorders in older children.

The study involved clinics in cities as far flung as Tokyo, New York, London and Istanbul and may improve the ability of doctors to diagnose PKD/IC, and it may shed light on other movement disorders, like Parkinson's disease.

The culprit behind the disease turns out to be a mysterious gene found in the brain called PRRT2. Nobody knows what this gene does, and it bears little resemblance to anything else in the human genome.

"This is both exciting and a little bit scary," said Louis Ptacek, MD, who led the research. The John C. Coleman Distinguished Professor of Neurology at UCSF and a Howard Hughes Medical Institute Investigator, Ptacek is a professor in the Department of Neurology, which seeks to discover the causes of human nervous system disorders and improve treatment options for patients by applying state-of-the-art translational research methods and engaging in collaborations with colleagues around the globe.

Discovering the gene that causes PKD/IC will help researchers understand how the disease works. It gives doctors a potential new way of definitively diagnosing the disease by looking for genetic mutations in the gene. The work may also shed light on other conditions that are characterized by movement disorders, including possibly Parkinson's disease.

"Understanding the underlying biology of this disease is absolutely going to help us understand movement disorders in general," said Ptacek.

Disease Strikes Infants with Epileptic Seizures

PKD/IC strikes infants with epileptic seizures that generally disappear within a year or two. However, the disease often reemerges later in childhood as a movement disorder in which children suffer sudden, startling, involuntary jerks when they start to move. Even thinking about moving is enough to cause some of these children to jerk involuntarily.

The disease is rare, and Ptacek estimates strikes about one out of every 100,000 people in the United States. At the same time, the disease is classified as "idiopathic" -- which is just another way of saying we don't really understand it, Ptacek said.

If you take an image of the brain by MRI, patients with the disease all look completely normal. There are no injuries, tumors or other obvious signs that account for the movements -- as is often the case with movement disorders. Work with patients in the clinic had suggested a genetic cause, however.

"Sometimes we trace the family tree, and lo and behold, there is a history of it," said Ptacek. In the last several years, he and his colleagues have developed a large cohort of patients whose families have a history of the disease.

The new research was based on a cohort of 103 such families that included one or more members with the disease. Genetic testing of these families led to the researchers to mutations in the PRRT2 gene, which cause the proteins the gene encodes to shorten or disappear entirely in the brain and spinal cord, where they normally reside.

One possible explanation for the resulting neurological symptoms, the researchers found, relates to a loss of neuronal regulation. When the genetic mutations cause the gene products to go missing, the nerve cells where they normally appear may become overly excited, firing too frequently or strongly and leading to the involuntary movements.


Story Source:

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


Journal Reference:

  1. Hsien-Yang Lee et al. Mutations in the Gene PRRT2 Cause Paroxysmal Kinesigenic Dyskinesia with Infantile Convulsions. Cell Reports, January 26, 2012 DOI: 10.1016/j.celrep.2011.11.001

Cite This Page:

University of California - San Francisco. "Cause of rare disease discovered." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 19 December 2011. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/12/111216174436.htm>.
University of California - San Francisco. (2011, December 19). Cause of rare disease discovered. ScienceDaily. Retrieved August 21, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/12/111216174436.htm
University of California - San Francisco. "Cause of rare disease discovered." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/12/111216174436.htm (accessed August 21, 2014).

Share This




More Health & Medicine News

Thursday, August 21, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Drug Used To Treat 'Ebola's Cousin' Shows Promise

Drug Used To Treat 'Ebola's Cousin' Shows Promise

Newsy (Aug. 21, 2014) An experimental drug used to treat Marburg virus in rhesus monkeys could give new insight into a similar treatment for Ebola. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Cadavers, a Teen, and a Medical School Dream

Cadavers, a Teen, and a Medical School Dream

AP (Aug. 21, 2014) Contains graphic content. He's only 17. But Johntrell Bowles has wanted to be a doctor from a young age, despite the odds against him. He was recently the youngest participant in a cadaver program at the Indiana University NW medical school. (Aug. 21) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
American Ebola Patients Released: What Cured Them?

American Ebola Patients Released: What Cured Them?

Newsy (Aug. 21, 2014) It's unclear whether the American Ebola patients' recoveries can be attributed to an experimental drug or early detection and good medical care. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Lost Brain Cells To Blame For Sleep Problems Among Seniors

Lost Brain Cells To Blame For Sleep Problems Among Seniors

Newsy (Aug. 21, 2014) According to a new study, elderly people might have trouble sleeping because of the loss of a certain group of neurons in the brain. 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:

More Coverage


In the Genome, an Answer to a Mysterious Movement Disorder

Dec. 15, 2011 Children with a rather mysterious movement disorder can have hundreds of attacks every day in which they inexplicably make sudden movements or sudden changes in the speed of their movements. New ... read more
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