Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Genes and disease mechanisms behind a common form of muscular dystrophy discovered

Date:
January 13, 2012
Source:
Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center
Summary:
Continuing a series of groundbreaking discoveries begun in 2010 about the genetic causes of the third most common form of inherited muscular dystrophy, scientists have identified the genes and proteins that damage muscle cells, as well as the mechanisms that can cause the disease.

Continuing a series of groundbreaking discoveries begun in 2010 about the genetic causes of the third most common form of inherited muscular dystrophy, an international team of researchers led by a scientist at Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center has identified the genes and proteins that damage muscle cells, as well as the mechanisms that can cause the disease. The findings are online and will be reported in the Jan. 17 print edition of the journal Developmental Cell.

Related Articles


The discovery could lead to a biomarker-based test for diagnosing facioscapulohumeral muscular dystrophy (FSHD), and the findings have implications for developing future treatments as well as for cancer immunotherapies in general.

The work establishes a viable roadmap for how the expression of the DUX4 gene can cause FSHD. Whether this is the sole cause of FSHD is not known; however, the latest findings "are about as strong of evidence as you can get" of the genetic link, said corresponding author Stephen Tapscott, M.D., Ph.D., a member of the Hutchinson Center's Human Biology Division.

Tapscott and colleagues sought answers to the questions about what the DUX4 protein does both normally in the body and in the FSHD disease process. In the latest study, they identified that the DUX4 protein regulates many genes that are normally expressed in the male germ line but are abnormally expressed in FSHD muscle. Germ line cells are inherited from parents and passed down to their offspring.

"This study is a significant step forward by solidifying that the DUX4 transcription factor causes this disease, while offering a number of viable mechanisms for why the muscle is damaged," Tapscott said. Transcription factors are tools that cells use to control gene expression. Genes that are "turned on" in the body are "transcribed," or translated, into proteins.

Now that scientists know that targets for DUX4 are expressed in skeletal muscle, an antibody- or RNA-based test could be developed to diagnose FSHD by examining muscle tissue from a biopsy, Tapscott said. Such biomarker-based tests also could be used to determine how well new treatments are working to suppress FSHD.

The study also discovered that DUX4 regulates cancer/testis antigens. Cancer/testis antigens are encoded by genes that are normally expressed only in the human germ line, but are also abnormally expressed in various tumor types, including melanoma and carcinomas of the bladder, lung and liver.

"This knowledge now gives us a way to manipulate the expression of cancer/ testis antigens, potentially opening the opportunity to use these antigens in a cancer vaccine," Tapscott said.

Two papers published in 2010 by the same group of researchers established the genetic basis for showing that expression of DUX4 was necessary for the disease. The previous research also identified the RNA in the FSHD muscles and showed that it was normally expressed in the germ line, which led to the hypothesis that the lack of an efficient developmental repression of this RNA caused the disease.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. Linda N. Geng, Zizhen Yao, Lauren Snider, Abraham P. Fong, Jennifer N. Cech, Janet M. Young, Silvere M. van der Maarel, Walter L. Ruzzo, Robert C. Gentleman, Rabi Tawil, Stephen J. Tapscott. DUX4 Activates Germline Genes, Retroelements, and Immune Mediators: Implications for Facioscapulohumeral Dystrophy. Developmental Cell, 2011; DOI: 10.1016/j.devcel.2011.11.013

Cite This Page:

Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center. "Genes and disease mechanisms behind a common form of muscular dystrophy discovered." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 13 January 2012. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/01/120112134338.htm>.
Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center. (2012, January 13). Genes and disease mechanisms behind a common form of muscular dystrophy discovered. ScienceDaily. Retrieved November 28, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/01/120112134338.htm
Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center. "Genes and disease mechanisms behind a common form of muscular dystrophy discovered." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/01/120112134338.htm (accessed November 28, 2014).

Share This


More From ScienceDaily



More Health & Medicine News

Friday, November 28, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Rural India's Low-Cost Sanitary Pad Revolution

Rural India's Low-Cost Sanitary Pad Revolution

AFP (Nov. 28, 2014) — One man hopes his invention -– a machine that produces cheap sanitary pads –- will help empower Indian women. Duration: 01:51 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Research on Bats Could Help Develop Drugs Against Ebola

Research on Bats Could Help Develop Drugs Against Ebola

AFP (Nov. 28, 2014) — In Africa's only biosafety level 4 laboratory, scientists have been carrying out experiments on bats to understand how virus like Ebola are being transmitted, and how some of them resist to it. Duration: 01:18 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
WHO Says Male Ebola Survivors Should Abstain From Sex

WHO Says Male Ebola Survivors Should Abstain From Sex

Newsy (Nov. 28, 2014) — WHO cites four studies that say Ebola can still be detected in semen up to 82 days after the onset of symptoms. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Ebola Leaves Orphans Alone in Sierra Leone

Ebola Leaves Orphans Alone in Sierra Leone

AFP (Nov. 27, 2014) — The Ebola epidemic sweeping Sierra Leone is having a profound effect on the country's children, many of whom have been left without any family members to support them. Duration: 01:02 Video provided by AFP
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