Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

New 'schizophrenia gene' prompts researchers to test potential drug target

28.10.2009
Johns Hopkins scientists report having used a commercially available drug to successfully “rescue” animal brain cells that they had intentionally damaged by manipulating a newly discovered gene that links susceptibility genes for schizophrenia and autism.

The rescue, described as “surprisingly complete” by the researchers, was accomplished with rapamycin, a drug known to act on a protein called mTOR whose role involves the production of other proteins.

The idea to test this drug’s effectiveness at rescuing impaired nerve cells occurred to the team as a result of having discovered a new gene that appears to act in concert with two previously identified schizophrenia susceptibility genes, one of which is involved in the activation of the protein mTOR.

This piecing together of multiple genes adds support for the idea that susceptibility to schizophrenia and autism may have common genetic fingerprints, according to the researchers.

In a report on the work published in the Sept. 24 issue of the journal Neuron, the scientists are careful to say that the genes in question are not the cause of schizophrenia or any other brain/mind disorder in humans. However, these genes do appear to serve as a blueprint for proteins that consistently pop up in a range of mental illnesses in people.

The newfound gene, dubbed KIAA1212, serves as a bridge linking two schizophrenia genes: DISC1 and AKT. Suspecting KIAA1212 as one of many potential binding partners interacting with DISC1, whose name is an acronym for “Disrupted-in-Schizophrenia,” the researchers genetically shut down the production of DISC1 proteins in newly born neurons in the hippocampus region of an adult mouse brain. The hippocampus contains a niche where native stem cells give rise to fully developed new neurons. The idea was to deliberately cause these cells to malfunction and then watch what happened.

The scientists found that the newborn neurons were most noticeably defective 14 days after DISC1 suppression and that they were defective in a variety of ways. By manipulating AKT production, or altering KIAA1212, they discovered the very same abnormalities as with DISC1 deficiency, concluding that KIAA1212 is in the same signaling pathway as DISC1 and AKT.

Because mTOR is a well-known downstream effector of AKT, they treated the adult mice harboring those abnormal neurons with rapamycin, a drug known to alleviate the effects of a faulty AKT pathway. It effectively “rescued” the neurons from their defects.

“Our discoveries give us more of the information we need to understand the function of genes associated with psychological diseases,” says Guo-li Ming, M.D., Ph.D., an associate professor of neurology and neuroscience in the Institute for Cell Engineering at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine. “The next step is to create a good animal model that would allow us to test whether candidate drugs will reverse not only the irregularities of brain cells with deficiency of these genes, but also behaviors.”

The new neurons with alterations of DISC1, KIAA1212 or AKT in the brains of the Rapamycin-treated mice developed normally, says Hongjun Song, Ph.D., an associate professor of Neurology in the Institute for Cell Engineering at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, who collaborated in the research. “What was amazing to us is how potent the drug is, at least on the cellular level,” he says. “A number of the neurons’ developmental defects — from enlarged cell size to the misplacement of cell localization and abnormal neuronal processes involved in receiving and sending messages — were corrected by this one drug.”

This study was supported by the National Institutes of Health, the McKnight Foundation, NARSAD, the International Mental Health Research Organization, the Maryland Stem Cell Research Fund, and the March of Dimes.

Authors on the paper, in addition to Ming and Song, are Ju Young Kim, Xin Duan, Cindy Y. Liu, Mi-Hyeon Jang, Junjie U. Guo, Nattapol Pow-anpongkul and Eunchai Kang, all of Johns Hopkins.

On the Web:
Neuron: http://www.cell.com/neuron/
Guoli Ming: http://neuroscience.jhu.edu/GuoliMing.php
Hungjun Song: http://www.hopkins-ice.org/neuro/int/song.html

Maryalice Yakutchik | EurekAlert!
Further information:
http://www.jhmi.edu

All articles from Life Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Can we see monkeys from space? Emerging technologies to map biodiversity

An international team of scientists has proposed a new multi-disciplinary approach in which an array of new technologies will allow us to map biodiversity and the risks that wildlife is facing at the scale of whole landscapes. The findings are published in Nature Ecology and Evolution. This international research is led by the Kunming Institute of Zoology from China, University of East Anglia, University of Leicester and the Leibniz Institute for Zoo and Wildlife Research.

Using a combination of satellite and ground data, the team proposes that it is now possible to map biodiversity with an accuracy that has not been previously...

Im Focus: Climate satellite: Tracking methane with robust laser technology

Heatwaves in the Arctic, longer periods of vegetation in Europe, severe floods in West Africa – starting in 2021, scientists want to explore the emissions of the greenhouse gas methane with the German-French satellite MERLIN. This is made possible by a new robust laser system of the Fraunhofer Institute for Laser Technology ILT in Aachen, which achieves unprecedented measurement accuracy.

Methane is primarily the result of the decomposition of organic matter. The gas has a 25 times greater warming potential than carbon dioxide, but is not as...

Im Focus: How protons move through a fuel cell

Hydrogen is regarded as the energy source of the future: It is produced with solar power and can be used to generate heat and electricity in fuel cells. Empa researchers have now succeeded in decoding the movement of hydrogen ions in crystals – a key step towards more efficient energy conversion in the hydrogen industry of tomorrow.

As charge carriers, electrons and ions play the leading role in electrochemical energy storage devices and converters such as batteries and fuel cells. Proton...

Im Focus: A unique data centre for cosmological simulations

Scientists from the Excellence Cluster Universe at the Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität Munich have establised "Cosmowebportal", a unique data centre for cosmological simulations located at the Leibniz Supercomputing Centre (LRZ) of the Bavarian Academy of Sciences. The complete results of a series of large hydrodynamical cosmological simulations are available, with data volumes typically exceeding several hundred terabytes. Scientists worldwide can interactively explore these complex simulations via a web interface and directly access the results.

With current telescopes, scientists can observe our Universe’s galaxies and galaxy clusters and their distribution along an invisible cosmic web. From the...

Im Focus: Scientists develop molecular thermometer for contactless measurement using infrared light

Temperature measurements possible even on the smallest scale / Molecular ruby for use in material sciences, biology, and medicine

Chemists at Johannes Gutenberg University Mainz (JGU) in cooperation with researchers of the German Federal Institute for Materials Research and Testing (BAM)...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

Plants are networkers

19.06.2017 | Event News

Digital Survival Training for Executives

13.06.2017 | Event News

Global Learning Council Summit 2017

13.06.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

Supersensitive through quantum entanglement

28.06.2017 | Physics and Astronomy

X-ray photoelectron spectroscopy under real ambient pressure conditions

28.06.2017 | Physics and Astronomy

Mice provide insight into genetics of autism spectrum disorders

28.06.2017 | Health and Medicine

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>