Researchers led by a Brigham and Womens Hospital/Harvard Medical School team found that wheezing -- a key physiological component of asthma -- requires the interaction of genes in several locations. The work, involving multiple independent verification, demonstrates the complexity of the genetic predisposition to asthma.
The study, "Interacting genetic loci cause airway hyperresponsiveness," appears online in Physiological Genomics, published by the American Physiological Society. "We know that there are both genetic and environmental factors that cause people to develop asthma," Dr. Kate G. Ackerman, the lead researcher, stated. "We have now shown that the genetic inheritance of wheezing, one component of asthma, is extremely complex in our model. This suggests that the discovery of these genes in the human population will be difficult and will require a multi-locus approach."
After the study on the airway hyperresponsiveness (AHR) trait, Dr. David R. Beier, the laboratory leader, said: "In the specific case of asthma, hopefully these results will direct human studies to look for genetic influences in a combinatorial fashion." Using an elaborate mouse model, the researchers found that the wheezing trait unambiguously required the interaction of loci on different chromosomes, yet analysis of the individual chromosomes showed no significant association with wheezing. (A locus is a site on a chromosome where the gene for a particular trait is located.)
Mayer Resnick | EurekAlert!
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