Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Early brain development implicated in Restless Legs Syndrome

Date:
March 19, 2014
Source:
Helmholtz Zentrum Muenchen - German Research Centre for Environmental Health
Summary:
A common genetic variant associated with Restless Legs Syndrome (RLS) alters the expression of a critical gene during fetal development of the brain, researchers have discovered. This leads to alterations of the developing forebrain indicating an anatomical region involved in RLS. Restless Legs Syndrome (RLS), a neurological disorder characterized by unpleasant sensations in the legs and the urge to move them, is not caused by a single genetic defect, but rather is a complex disorder influenced by many genetic and environmental components.

In a study published online in Genome Research, researchers of the Helmholtz Zentrum München und the Technische Universität München have demonstrated that a common genetic variant associated with Restless Legs Syndrome (RLS) alters the expression of a critical gene during fetal development of the brain. This leads to alterations of the developing forebrain indicating an anatomical region involved in RLS.

Related Articles


Restless Legs Syndrome (RLS), a neurological disorder characterized by unpleasant sensations in the legs and the urge to move them, is not caused by a single genetic defect, but rather is a complex disorder influenced by many genetic and environmental components. Previously, researchers identified genetic variants in RLS patients; however, how these variants, each of which only has a small effect, contributed to RLS was unclear.

MEIS1 gene variant leads to altered development of the brain

In this new study, authors from the Helmholtz Zentrum München (HMGU) and Technische Universität München as well as the Stanford Center for Sleep Medicine and Sciences demonstrate how one of these variants may contribute to RLS. The RLS-associated variant is located in a non-coding region of the MEIS1 gene and led to decreased ability to activate gene expression. Specifically, the authors observed the reduced gene expression in the future basal ganglia in the forebrain. "Here we have pinpointed down to an anatomical region for RLS," says lead author of the study, Prof. Juliane Winkelmann from HMGU, who is currently doing research at the Stanford University.

"The RLS-associated variant is located in an intron of MEIS1, a transcription factor involved in organ development and maintenance. The risk variant binds more strongly to the transcriptional regulator CREB1, which may lead to the reduced MEIS1 expression," explains Prof. Dr. Wolfgang Wurst from HMGU. Furthermore, screening analyses in animal models with reduced MEIS1 expression, conducted by the Institute of Experimental Genetics at the HMGU, led by Prof. Dr. Martin Hrabě de Angelis, showed hyperactivity, which resembles the human condition of RLS.

Reduced gene activity predisposition for RLS

Interestingly, the non-coding region only seems to be active during early brain development, suggesting that RLS, which is associated with aging, may have fetal origins. "Minor alterations in the developing forebrain during early embryonic development are probably leading to a predisposition to RLS," Winkelmann said. "Later in life, during aging, and together with environmental factors, these may lead to the manifestation of the disease."

In further studies researchers aim to investigate the affected cells in the forebrain. Based on their findings new treatment strategies for RLS may be developed.

This study provides one of the first in-depth examinations of a genetic variant identified in a genome-wide association study, which examines many individuals for genetic variants that are linked to a trait. Although many variants are often reported in these studies, it has been difficult understand how variants contribute to disease because they often lie in non-coding regions of the genome and have small effect sizes. This work also reveals that combinatorial use of multiple approaches will be likely required to unravel the physiological causes most of human diseases.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Helmholtz Zentrum Muenchen - German Research Centre for Environmental Health. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. D. Spieler, M. Kaffe, F. Knauf, J. Bessa, J. J. Tena, F. Giesert, B. Schormair, E. Tilch, H. Lee, M. Horsch, D. Czamara, N. Karbalai, C. von Toerne, M. Waldenberger, C. Gieger, P. Lichtner, M. Claussnitzer, R. Naumann, B. Muller-Myhsok, M. Torres, L. Garrett, J. Rozman, M. Klingenspor, V. Gailus-Durner, H. Fuchs, M. Hrabe de Angelis, J. Beckers, S. M. Holter, T. Meitinger, S. M. Hauck, H. Laumen, W. Wurst, F. Casares, J. L. Gomez-Skarmeta, J. Winkelmann. Restless Legs Syndrome-associated intronic common variant in Meis1 alters enhancer function in the developing telencephalon. Genome Research, 2014; DOI: 10.1101/gr.166751.113

Cite This Page:

Helmholtz Zentrum Muenchen - German Research Centre for Environmental Health. "Early brain development implicated in Restless Legs Syndrome." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 19 March 2014. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/03/140319093942.htm>.
Helmholtz Zentrum Muenchen - German Research Centre for Environmental Health. (2014, March 19). Early brain development implicated in Restless Legs Syndrome. ScienceDaily. Retrieved January 29, 2015 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/03/140319093942.htm
Helmholtz Zentrum Muenchen - German Research Centre for Environmental Health. "Early brain development implicated in Restless Legs Syndrome." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/03/140319093942.htm (accessed January 29, 2015).

Share This


More From ScienceDaily



More Health & Medicine News

Thursday, January 29, 2015

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Oxfam Calls for Massive Aid for Ebola-Hit West Africa

Oxfam Calls for Massive Aid for Ebola-Hit West Africa

AFP (Jan. 29, 2015) — Oxfam International has called for a multi-million dollar post-Ebola "Marshall Plan", with financial support given by wealthy countries, to help Guinea, Sierra Leone and Liberia to recover. Duration: 01:10 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Are We Winning The Fight Against Ebola?

Are We Winning The Fight Against Ebola?

Newsy (Jan. 29, 2015) — The World Health Organization announced the fight against Ebola has entered its second phase as the number of cases per week has steadily dropped. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Measles Scare Sends 66 Calif. Students Home

Measles Scare Sends 66 Calif. Students Home

AP (Jan. 29, 2015) — Officials say 66 students at a Southern California high school have been told to stay home through the end of next week because they may have been exposed to measles and are not vaccinated. (Jan. 29) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Group Encourages Black Moms to Breastfeed

Group Encourages Black Moms to Breastfeed

AP (Jan. 29, 2015) — A grassroots effort is underway in several US cities to encourage more black women to breastfeed their babies by teaching them the benefits of the age-old practice, which is sometimes shunned in African-American communities. (Jan. 29) Video provided by AP
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