Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Mice with big brains provide insight into brain regeneration and developmental disorders

Date:
May 15, 2012
Source:
Ottawa Hospital Research Institute
Summary:
Scientists have discovered that mice that lack a gene called Snf2l have brains that are 35 percent larger than normal. The research could lead to new approaches to stimulate brain regeneration and may provide important insight into developmental disorders such as autism and Rett syndrome.

Scientists at the Ottawa Hospital Research Institute (OHRI) and the University of Ottawa (uOttawa) have discovered that mice that lack a gene called Snf2l have brains that are 35 per cent larger than normal. The research was led by Dr. David Picketts.
Credit: Image courtesy of Ottawa Hospital Research Institute

Scientists at the Ottawa Hospital Research Institute (OHRI) and the University of Ottawa (uOttawa) have discovered that mice that lack a gene called Snf2l have brains that are 35 per cent larger than normal. The research, led by Dr. David Picketts and published in the journal Developmental Cell, could lead to new approaches to stimulate brain regeneration and may provide important insight into developmental disorders such as autism and Rett syndrome.

Dr. Picketts and his team created the mice to learn more about Snf2l, which is known to play a role in packaging DNA and determining which genes are active versus inactive. They found that the mutant mice were completely normal, except that they had larger brains, more cells in all areas of the brain, and more actively dividing brain stem cells.

"This research represents a fundamental advance in our understanding of how the brain develops, and it also has important practical implications," said Dr. Picketts, Senior Scientist at OHRI and Associate Professor in the Faculty of Medicine at uOttawa. "If we could identify drugs that regulate Snfl2 activity, these could potentially be used to stimulate neural stem cells to help regenerate and repair damage in people who have suffered brain injuries or strokes. We're still at the early stages of this research, but the possibilities are very exciting."

The Snf2l mutant mice are also providing insight into developmental disorders that are associated with changes in brain size. For example, by studying these mice, Dr. Picketts and his team found that Snf2l controls the expression of a gene called Foxg1, which causes the intellectual disability disorder Rett syndrome in some people. While the mutant mice have high levels of Foxg1 and large brains, people with Rett syndrome lack Foxg1 and have small brains. This research shows that Snf2l and Foxg1 work against each other to balance brain size. Autism is also commonly associated with changes in brain size (one third of autistic individuals have a larger brain), however no studies have yet provided a direct link between Snf2l and autism.

"The connections between Snf2l and brain developmental disorders are intriguing," said Dr. Picketts. "We're looking forward to further unravelling these connections and hopefully applying this research to help people who suffer from these conditions." This study was funded by the Canadian Institutes of Health Research.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Ottawa Hospital Research Institute. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. Darren J. Yip, Chelsea P. Corcoran, Matías Alvarez-Saavedra, Adriana DeMaria, Stephen Rennick, Alan J. Mears, Michael A. Rudnicki, Claude Messier, David J. Picketts. Snf2l Regulates Foxg1-Dependent Progenitor Cell Expansion in the Developing Brain. Developmental Cell, 2012; 22 (4): 871 DOI: 10.1016/j.devcel.2012.01.020

Cite This Page:

Ottawa Hospital Research Institute. "Mice with big brains provide insight into brain regeneration and developmental disorders." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 15 May 2012. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/05/120515094132.htm>.
Ottawa Hospital Research Institute. (2012, May 15). Mice with big brains provide insight into brain regeneration and developmental disorders. ScienceDaily. Retrieved October 21, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/05/120515094132.htm
Ottawa Hospital Research Institute. "Mice with big brains provide insight into brain regeneration and developmental disorders." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/05/120515094132.htm (accessed October 21, 2014).

Share This



More Plants & Animals News

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

'Cadaver Dog' Sniffs out Human Remains

'Cadaver Dog' Sniffs out Human Remains

AP (Oct. 21, 2014) — Where's a body buried? Buster's nose can often tell you. He's a cadaver dog, specially trained to find human remains and increasingly being used by law enforcement and accepted in courts. These dogs are helping solve even decades-old mysteries. (Oct. 21) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
White Lion Cubs Born in Belgrade Zoo

White Lion Cubs Born in Belgrade Zoo

AFP (Oct. 20, 2014) — Two white lion cubs, an extremely rare subspecies of the African lion, were recently born at Belgrade Zoo. They are being bottle fed by zoo keepers after they were rejected by their mother after birth. Duration: 00:42 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Traditional Farming Methods Gaining Ground in Mali

Traditional Farming Methods Gaining Ground in Mali

AFP (Oct. 20, 2014) — He is leading a one man agricultural revolution in Mali - Oumar Diatabe uses traditional farming methods to get the most out of his land and is teaching others across the country how to do the same. Duration: 01:44 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Goliath Spider Will Give You Nightmares

Goliath Spider Will Give You Nightmares

Buzz60 (Oct. 20, 2014) — An entomologist stumbled upon a South American Goliath Birdeater. With a name like that, you know it's a terrifying creepy crawler. Sean Dowling (@SeanDowlingTV) has the details. Video provided by Buzz60
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

 

Plants & Animals

Earth & Climate

Fossils & Ruins

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